A STRING of criminal complaints were filed against Acting Cebu City Mayor Margarita “Margot” Osmeña and seven others for allegedly detaining a councilman last June 10.
Labangon Barangay Councilman Rodulfo Tabasa yesterday lodged complaints for unlawful arrest, kidnapping, and serious illegal detention against Osmeña before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas.
Also named in the complaint were Ronald Malacora, General Services Office (GSO) special assistant; GSO personnel Kenneth Amar and Rafael Cabonilas; a policeman; and three unidentified people.
The GSO personnel reportedly picked up Tabasa in a citizens’ arrest, after he failed to return a City Hall vehicle that had been recalled. This allegedly violated Article 221 of the Revised Penal Code, or the failure to make delivery of public funds or property.
“Okay lang, let them. I mean, you know, whatever they think they need to do, I can’t stop them,” Osmeña said.
In her regular news conference yesterday, the acting mayor also said that if some barangay officials had returned the vehicles when she recalled them for an inventory, they wouldn’t be facing cases now.
“In the same manner, whatever we need to do, whatever the City has to do, we will do. All within the bounds of law,” she told reporters.
Last Friday night, Amar and Cabonilas allegedly brought Tabasa to the police station in Barangay Punta Princesa. Four policemen from the City Intelligence Branch were with Amar and Cabonilas when they went to Tabasa’s home.
Tabasa said he didn’t receive the memorandum recalling the Toyota Hi-lux and thought that the GSO workers were only there to get the vehicle directly from him.
Tabasa said he asked what his offense was, and the police told him it was carnapping. After the arrest, the police did not mention to him the offense he supposedly committed.
“I felt so scared and that my rights have been violated. I felt dizzy and my heart palpitated so fast,” said Tabasa.
Tabasa was freed from detention after Judge Pamela Baring-Uy ordered his release on bail on the next day.
“I felt so stressed out, dazed. I was not able to sleep. I felt so violated. I cannot understand why I was detained when I did nothing wrong and there was no case filed against me,” said Tabasa in his affidavit.
Tabasa’s wife Myrna and lawyer Jocelyn Pesquera also executed their separate affidavits corroborating the allegations of the councilor.
Myrna said she was watching television at home when their helper told her that policemen were forcing her husband to go with them to the police station.
“I was so scared for the safety of my husband. I have observed that my husband’s face turned red and he was complaining that his heart palpitated so fast,” said Myrna in her affidavit.
She overheard that that the policemen and GSO personnel acted allegedly upon the orders of Osmeña and Malacora.
For her part, Pesquera said she proceeded to the Cebu City Police Office after she received a text message from lawyer Jose Daluz that Tabasa had been arrested.
When the incoming councilor inquired what the basis was for Tabasa’s arrest, Pesquera said, Amar told her it was a citizen’s arrest.
A week after the May 9 elections, Osmeña assumed office as acting mayor because outgoing Mayor Michael Rama and other City Hall officials had been suspended. The recall of all City-owned vehicles for an inventory was among the first few things she ordered.
Some of the barangays and offices of City Hall that submitted their vehicles for the inventory have requested to get back their vehicles. All these requests were granted.
Most of the barangays got multicabs, Osmeña said, because most of them said they needed vehicles to serve their residents, that’s why a vehicle with more passenger capacity was given to them.
“It doesn’t mean, though, that they get what they asked for. When they described the vehicle it doesn’t mean that they get that vehicle back but it also doesn’t mean that they don’t get it back. It all depends,” Osmeña said.
Instead of giving back some Toyota Hi-Lux units to barangay captains, for instance, Osmeña said she’d rather assign these to the department heads, so they will no longer claim their representation and transportation allowance.
But she clarified that this is still a proposal to maximize the use of vehicles and save public funds.