DESPITE having returned their City-issued vehicles yesterday, Cebu City Acting Mayor Margarita Osmeña will not withdraw the criminal charges she filed against seven barangay captains before the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office.
Osmeña, through the City Legal Office, filed the case last June 21.
Named respondents are Association of Barangay Councils president and Tisa Barangay Captain Philip Zafra, Tinago Barangay Captain Joel Garganera, Apas Barangay Captain Ramil Ayuman, Sambag I Barangay Captain Lemar Alcover, Basak Pardo Barangay Captain Yolandito Cagang, Tagba-o Barangay Captain Anna Tabal and Buot Barangay Captain Rosalita Callino.
Although he immediately returned his City-issued vehicle on June 22, Alcover will still face the charges.
In a news conference yesterday, Osmeña said she has not thought of withdrawing the case against the village chiefs and will leave the decision to her husband, mayor-elect Tomas, who will assume office on Thursday.
“It’s not me who filed, it was the City of Cebu. But, you know, think about it. If you withdraw, okay pala yan, they’ll just give it whenever they want?” she said.
She denied allegations that she received the letter reportedly drafted by the seven barangay captains, appealing for their concern.
She, however, clarified that she replied to suspended and vice mayor-elect Edgardo Labella’s letter addressed to her.
“From them (village chiefs), I did not get it. Okay, on that premise, since they did not receive daw my response to the letter they sent, so why did they return it (vehicles) now?” she said.
“Because if they’re right, they can defend themselves in court naman, di ba? They can say it also, we were waiting for her response… that’s their defense, right? It doesn’t change anything,” she said.
GSO chief Ronald Malacora, on the other hand, said he received a call from Garganera after the flag ceremony at the City Hall yesterday.
He said Garganera told him that the six of them will return their vehicles to the GSO warehouse in the South Road Properties.
“Actually, last Friday, I asked one of my staff to call and tell them that they only have five days, which will lapse tomorrow, to return the vehicles,” he said.
Out of the six, Ayuman and Zafra assented and the former even asked if it were possible for him to return it on June 27, given that a fire razed a sitio in Barangay Apas last Friday, Malacora said.
Sought for comment, City Legal Office chief Atty. Eleodoro Diaz IV said that despite having returned the vehicles, it will not exempt the village chiefs from criminal liability, and the case will proceed.
“The criminal aspect of the case will proceed. It will mitigate but not exempt. The rest who returned, prior to the case, will not be facing violations unders Article 221 and 231,” he said.