MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman has files charged against former President Benigno Aquino III before the Sandiganbayan for violating the RA 3019 or Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and usurpation of official functions.
The charges stemmed from the botched operations of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) in Mamasapano in 2015 that left 44 members of the elite police unit dead.
Based on case’s information, the former president allowed then suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima to influence his decisions on the Oplan Exodus which targeted terrorists Zulkifli Binhir alias Marwan and Basit Usman.
The Ombudsman alleged that Aquino violated the PNP chain of command, the suspension order it imposed on Purisima, as well as the order of then OIC PNP Chief Leonardo Espina to stop the suspended police official from performing his duties.
The Office of the Ombudsman recommended a bail of P40,000 for the two charges it filed against the former president.
According to Antonio Trillanes IV, the then director of the PNP-SAF, Getulio Napeñas, should be held liable, and not Aquino.
“For us, the commander is the one responsible. If the operation fails, you should be liable for it. Your failure should not be blamed on the president,” Trillanes said.
Meanwhile, Liberal Party Senator Bam Aquino said the former president is ready to face his liabilities in the Mamasapano tragedy.
The senator said he is confident that the truth will soon come out.
On the other hand, the original complainant, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) said the Ombudsman filed the wrong and lesser case.
The VACC noted the Ombudsman committed injustice against the families of the victims of the botched operation.
“They should have followed the complaint of the VACC and the relatives of SAF44 – the 44 counts of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicides,” VACC lawyer Atty. Manuelito Luna said.
The group also expressed doubt over the motive of the Ombudsman.
The VACC said Ombudsman Morales seems to have acted ahead of the decision of the Supreme Court in their appeal to repeal the results of the investigation.
According to its founding chairman, the high tribunal can still release a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the proceedings of the Sandiganbayan.
“We urge the Supreme Court to act on this to give justice,” VACC Founding Chair Dante Jimenez said.
In a text message sent by Aquino’s spokesperson, Abigail Valte, the former president is set to issue a statement soon regarding the charges. – Rey Pelayo | UNTV News & Rescue
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