Allies in council grieve for Rupinta

TO ensure a “more in-depth and exhaustive” investigation on the ambush-slay of Ermita, Cebu City Barangay Captain Felicisimo “Imok” Rupinta, the City Council wants authorities to consider forming a task force that will handle the matter.

Aside from this, the council also condemned the murder of the village chief.

In a privilege speech during yesterday’s regular session, Councilor Philip Zafra said he wants “Task Force Imok Rupinta” to be composed of the Philippine National Police, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the National Bureau of Investigation.

“(Task force should be established) in order to dig deeper in this crime and to thoroughly and exhaustively investigate all angles leading to the perpetration of the same,” he said.

Zafra, who is also Association of Barangay Councils president remembered Rupinta as a well-loved public servant, who worked hard to clean Ermita despite its reputation of being the most drug-infested barangay in the city.

“Despite our limitations as barangay captains, he managed to perform his job exceptionally well, especially with the nature and status of his barangay prior to his election as barangay captain in 1997,” Zafra said.

Zafra lamented how he found it “unfair, uncalled for, and highly condemnable” to name the late village chief a drug protector even in death.

He was referring to Mayor Tomas Osmeña’s earlier statement that he was happy for Ermita because it lost its biggest drug protector—Imok Rupinta.

The mayor named slain drug lords Cresostomo “Tata Negro” Llaguno, Rowen “Yawa” Secretaria and Franz Sabalones as among the drug personalities who prospered in the area during Rupinta’s stint.

In reaction, eight of the 15 council members present yesterday, including presiding officer Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, entered the session hall sporting black ribbons around their left arms.

Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia said that this was their way of mourning and extending their condolences to Rupinta’s bereaved family and to the people of Ermita.

As a corollary motion to Zafra’s earlier resolutions, Garcia moved to condemn the statement of Mayor Osmeña.

Barug PDP Councilors Zafra, Garcia, Jose Daluz III, Joel Garganera, Pastor Alcover Jr., Edu Rama and Joy Pesquera voted in favor of the measure.

The administration bloc abstained, except for Councilor Dave Tumulak, who later joined his colleagues in the opposition and tied a black ribbon around his left arm.

Those who did not vote on the matter include Councilors Margarita Osmeña, Sisinio Andales, Eugenio Gabuya Jr., Alvin Arcilla, Joy Augustus Young and Jerry Guardo.

Mayor Osmeña, for his part, remains unfazed by the opposition’s allegations that he is defaming the slain barangay captain.

“My interest is in the people of Ermita, not with Imok Rupinta. Bahala na sila. I care about the people,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ermita number one councilman Mark Rizaldy Miral, who will replace Rupinta as barangay captain, said he has no plans to assume the post at the moment.

He said he will wait for the controversy to die down and for Rupinta’s remains to be laid to rest before he takes oath as village chief.

“I will just wait to pay respect to our people in Ermita, especially Kap Imok’s family,” Miral said.

He assured constituents that the remaining barangay officials will continue to uphold the principles set by Rupinta during the latter’s 20-year political career.

A relative of Rupinta, who asked not to be named, said the funeral will be on Dec. 9, but they still have yet to make a final decision on whether Rupinta will be buried in the northern town of Liloan.
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