FOLLOWING the arrest of one barangay official last week, the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) Cebu City has threatened to file cases against the police if they continue to do so.
In a letter to Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Senior Supt. Benjamin Santos, officers of ABC said any arrest of barangay officials named respondents in the carnapping case the City filed against them is illegal.
The letter was signed by ABC president Philip Zafra and other officers, including Barangay Captains Joel Garganera of Tinago, Ramil Ayuman of Apas, Alan Masecampo of San Antonio, Yolandito Cagang of Basak Pardo, Ana Tabal of Tagbao, Rosalita Callino of Buot, Reynald Lauron of Cambinocot, Raquel Avila of Kamagayan and Lemar Alcover of Sambag I.
Some 47 officials were charged with carnapping after they allegedly violated provisions of Republic Act (RA) 6539, or the Anti-Carnapping Law. They were also charged with malversation of public property under the Revised Penal Code;, with violating RA 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; and with violating RA 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, for failing to return their City-issued vehicles when Acting Mayor Margarita Osmeña recalled these for inventory.
The officials said they have reliable information that an order was issued for their arrest after the charges were filed.
They emphasized that no carnapping took place because the service vehicles were issued to them by virtue of a memorandum of agreement with the City Government.
The ABC officials also pointed out that no warrant was issued for their arrest, either by the anti-graft office or any court.
They also sent letters, dated May 20 and 31, to the office of the acting mayor, asking her to reconsider her recall memo since the vehicles are regularly used for emergency purposes.
They said they have yet to receive a reply from Osmeña.
Osmeña, in previous interviews, said barangay officials should have turned over their vehicles to the City to avoid any legal consequences.
In a related development, CCPO Director Santos defended the four policemen who were included in the case filed by Labangon Barangay Councilor Rodulfo Tabasa over his “citizen’s arrest.”
He said the policemen were only doing their job to ensure peace and order between General Service Office (GSO) employees and Tabasa.
“We will provide them with the proper attorney,” he said.
Santos deemed the operation a success because no one was hurt.
He ruled out speculations that Tabasa’s arrest was politically-motivated as the barangay captains were given an official recall order for the City-issued vehicles.
He urged them to return the vehicles because there is no assurance that they won’t be arrested like Tabasa, as the GSO has the power to execute a citizen’s arrest not for carnapping but for Article 221 of the Revised Penal Code, or the failure to deliver public funds or property, which is a continuing offense.
In regards to the letter sent to him by the 10 barangay captains, he respected their will.
“Their points were accurate and as a law enforcer we see to it that we follow the rule of law,” he said in an interview with Sun.Star Cebu.
Meanwhile, City Intelligence Branch Chief Supt. Michael Bastes has consulted their lawyer in regards to the cases his men are facing.
He refused to reveal their names, but he said he will help them stand in court.
“We won’t assist if we don’t have basis. The important thing is that we only assisted and not arrested,” Bastes said in Cebuano.