Criminal raps vs ‘Noy’
Liable for massacre at M’sapano—Ombudsman
OMBUDSMAN Conchita Carpio-Morales ordered the filing of criminal charges against former President Benigno Aquino III Friday for graft and usurpation of authority, saying he knowingly appointed his suspended police chief to head the ill-fated Mamasapano raid in January 2015.
The Ombudsman, who had cleared Aquino of homicide charges for the 44 Special Action Force police commandos that died in the raid, included former PNP chief Alan Purisima and former SAF director Getulio Napeñas in the charge sheet.
“There is no gainsaying that President Aquino was fully aware that the Office of the Ombudsman had placed Purisima under preventive suspension at that time,” Morales said, noting that text messages presented at a Senate hearing showed him discussing the operation with his police chief, who had already been suspended at the time over allegations of graft.
Suspended public officials are barred from performing any public function, Morales said.
Under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code, any person who performs duties of a public officer without being lawfully entitled to do so faces six months to six years in jail.
The anti-graft law also makes it illegal for any public officer to “persuade, induce or influence another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority.”
Aquino, Purisima, and Napeñas face six to 15 years in jail if they are convicted of graft. Usurpation of authority, on the other hand carries a penalty of up to four years.
A spokesman for Aquino, Abigail Valte, said the former president would file a motion for reconsideration, saying the Ombudsman may have misunderstood the facts and reached the wrong conclusion.
“An initial reading shows that there may have been a misappreciation of some facts surrounding the incident, leading to some erroneous conclusions. He will seek to clarify the same through a motion for reconsideration,” Valte added.
On Jan. 24, 2015, close to 400 SAF commandos launched Oplan Exodus to serve standing warrants of arrest against internationally wanted terrorists Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan and Ahmad Akmad Uson, in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
In the ensuing firefight that lasted several hours, 44 SAF troopers died.
A day after Aquino stepped down from office, relatives of some of the SAF troopers filed a criminal complaint against him, accusing him of reckless imprudence resulting in 44 homicides. Complaints of criminal negligence were also filed against Aquino and his co-accused.
Although thes Ombudsman dismissed these accusations, she agreed with the petitioners that Aquino was wrong in allowing Purisima, who was then suspended, to participate in the planning and management of the covert operation in Mamasapano.
“Certainly a public officer who is under preventive suspension in barred from performing any public functions and from meddling into the affairs of the government. In other words, Purisima would not have been placed in such a position of continuing to conduct himself, in relation to Oplan Exodus, in a manner as if he was not under preventive suspension at that time, from his position as PNP chief, were it not for the complicity and influence of President Aquino,” Morales said.
She said there was probable cause that, “with the complicity and influence of President Aquino, the order of preventive suspension issued by the Ombudsman was violated.”
Aquino is liable under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act by acting with “complicity and influence” when he knew that Purisima was suspended during the botched operation.
On the other hand, under Article 177, usurpation of authority is committed when a person falsely represents himself as a government official without being lawfully entitled to do so.
Aquino has five days upon receipt of the complaint to file a motion for reconsideration.
In the investigation, the Ombudsman said Aquino continued to receive Purisima’s advise, even though the police official was suspended over a questionable courier contract.
Malacañang welcomed the move to have Aquino indicted for Mamasapano, saying that the Palace is hoping that justice will soon be served.
“We respect the Ombudsman’s constitutional mandate to investigate public officials,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said.
“The President recognizes the heroic sacrifice of the Philippine National Police - Special Action Force 44, and it is his—and the nation’s—hope to finally bring justice to the victims and families of the Fallen 44 and put closure to the issue as part of the healing process,” he added.
Last January, Duterte met with the relatives of the SAF 44 in Malacañang to mark the deaths of their loved ones.