PDEA 7 still mum on acquittal of Barangay Ermita officials

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THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Central Visayas is still mum on the dismissal of the case it filed against seven officials of Barangay Ermita, Cebu City in 2016, saying it has not received a copy of the court decision yet.

PDEA 7 spokesperson Leia Alcantara said Thursday, June 2, that they are still waiting for their regional director, Levi Ortiz, who is in Manila, to decide on the matter.

Presiding Judge Irish Inabangan Amores of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch 14 issued a not guilty verdict to Ermita barangay captain Mark Rizaldy Miral and councilors Antonieto Flores, Ryan Jay Rosas, Alio Tamundo, Domingo Ando, Maria Buanghug and Wilbert Flores.

The barangay officials, who were all councilors when the case was filed, were sued for “unlawfully and feloniously” refusing and failing to give assistance to stand as witnesses to the physical inventory of seized items, upon demand by PDEA 7 agents on November 6, 2016.

The late Ermita barangay captain Felicisimo "Imok" Rupinta was among those sued by PDEA 7. Rupinta died in an ambush in Barangay Tayud, Liloan town in November 2017.

The seized items included P800,000 worth of shabu.

The PDEA had implemented a search warrant against Richard Cañete and Josephine Cuyno in Sitio Bato, Ermita, and arrested Cañete in the drug den along with 13 other drug users and visitors. Cuyno, the suspected drug den operator, was not present when the warrant was served.

Former PDEA 7 director Yogi Filemon Ruiz, the complainant, said their operatives waited for two hours, but no elected official from the barangay arrived to assist the anti-narcotics team that conducted the raid.

Miral, who was then barangay councilor, testified that he was not informed nor had knowledge of the November 6 PDEA operation.

Miral said the truth has prevailed and described their dismissal as the “victory of truth.”

He said they have no plans of retaliating or filing a case against the person who tarnished their names based on the advice of their lawyer as the process would take longer.

The barangay officials unanimously said that even though they had not received their salaries after being suspended by the Ombudsman of the Visayas for 18 months as a result of the case, they continued to provide services to their constituents in their own personal capacity. (BBT, TPT)

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