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Imok to be buried today; police to secure funeral

CEBU, Philippines — Barangay Captain Felicisimo "Imok" Rupinta of Ermita, Cebu City will be laid to rest today at the Queen City Memorial Garden.

A Mass will be held at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish at 1 p.m., and will be followed by a funeral procession from the University of San Jose-Recoletos to Carbon Market, to M.C. Briones Street, M.J. Cuenco Avenue, Central Nautical Highway and to the cemetery.

City Councilor Joel Garganera, in a press conference, said he has coordinated with the Cebu City Transportation Office and Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office for Rupinta’s funeral.

“It’s a highly emotional event tomorrow (today). We are asking our people… especially the people of Ermita that they have to tone down their emotions,” Garganera said.

 “You know what? I’ll tell you this. Katong buhi panis Imok, daghan kaayo’g niduol niyang tirador sa Ermita niboluntaryo nga moresbak. I don’t know kinsay resbakan nila but Imok was very calm and he said ayaw dili ko mosugot maggubot,” he added.

Last November 23, Rupinta was ambushed at Sitio Simborio Barangay Yati, Liloan.  He was with his common-law wife Jocelyn Mendoza on their way home when the incident happened. Rupinta took two bullets to the head, while Mendoza was unhurt.

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Two of the alleged four assailants – Jimmy Largo and Jordan Gera – were arrested in separate operations.

Garganera said he told Rupinta’s people and supporters to maintain being “peaceful and orderly” in today’s interment as it was the request of the late barangay official.

He denied reports that the Barug Team Rama did not support Rupinta when the barangay captain was suspended earlier this year for alleged non-cooperation with the authorities in the drug operation in his barangay.

City Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia, for his part, said the group has been helping Rupinta and other barangay councilmen in terms of the legal aid.

Garcia said the group has met Rupinta many times but they did not call the media to present that they are concerned about their party mate who was suspended for six months.

As for the P300,000 reward money, Garganera said the team is just waiting for the recommendation of the police as to who will be given the amount.

He said the team would have wanted to unmask the mastermind of Rupinta’s murder that is why they have raised the reward money to fast-track the investigation.

The Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) will be providing security for Rupinta’s burial today.

CCPO Deputy City Director for Administration Superintendent Artemio Ricabo said an estimated 50 police personnel will be deployed to secure the route.

“During the Mass naa ta personnel i-deploy and while on the go to the cemetery naa sad ta apilan nga covert,” Ricabo said.

Ricabo added that given his position as a barangay captain, it is expected that his supporters will troop to attend the funeral rites.

He advised the supporters to observe the solemnity of the burial rites as he also discouraged protests.

“Unta mahinahon lang, ug unta dili mag-create og kasamok,” Ricabo said.

No bail recommended

Meanwhile, the Cebu Provincial Prosecutor’s Office has recommended no bail for Gera, one of the accused in the killing of Rupinta.

Prosecutor II Liewellyn Bonghanoy elevated the murder case to the court against Gera, a resident of Barangay Jugan, Consolacion town, after finding probable cause.

Provincial Prosecutor Pepita Jane Petralba approved Bonghanoy’s recommendation.

Gera, who was arrested in his residence last December 1, was the second suspect placed under arrest by the operatives of Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG)-7.

Largo, 41, was arrested at the Carbon Public Market within 24 hours after Rupinta’s ambush.

Aside from the murder case, Gera is also facing an attempted murder charge before the court with a recommended bail of P120,000 for an attempt to kill Mendoza.

Rupinta, 63, and Mendoza, 43, were onboard an Isuzu D-Max with plate number YGB 554 when they were ambushed.

RSOG-7 immediately conducted a follow-up investigation leading to the arrest of Largo and Gera.

Lawyer Salvador Solima, who is representing the Rupintas, said their camp is hopeful that the other suspects will be arrested since they were already identified by the police. (FREEMAN)

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