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Ombudsman upholds Noy indictment over Mamasapano

In a 26-page decision dated Sept. 5, a copy of which was released to the media yesterday, the anti-graft body maintained that there is probable cause to charge Former president Benigno Aquino III before the Sandiganbayan with usurpation of authority under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code and violation of Section 3 (a) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. File

MANILA, Philippines —  Former president Benigno Aquino III will soon be having his day in court as the Office of the Ombudsman upheld its earlier ruling ordering the filing of criminal cases against him in connection with the death of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in January 2015.

In a 26-page decision dated Sept. 5, a copy of which was released to the media yesterday, the anti-graft body maintained that there is probable cause to charge Aquino before the Sandiganbayan with usurpation of authority under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code and violation of Section 3 (a) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The decision was signed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on Sept. 11.

Also ordered charged with Aquino were former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima and former PNP-Special Action Force director Getulio Napeñas Jr.

Purisima and Napeñas are facing separate cases of graft and usurpation of authority before the Sandiganbayan also in connection with the 44 deaths.

The decision is an affirmation of the ombudsman’s June 13 ruling, stating that Aquino should be held liable for allowing Purisima to play a “major role” in Oplan Exodus, the botched PNP-Special Action Force (SAF) operation aimed at neutralizing Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Filipino bomb maker Abdul Basit Usman.

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“After a considered evaluation of the arguments raised by the movants vis-a-vis the evidence on record, the Office finds no cogent reason to reverse or modify the assailed resolution,” the ombudsman’s new decision read.

The ombudsman maintained that Aquino allowed Purisima to participate in the planning and execution of Oplan Exodus despite being fully aware that the latter was at that time under preventive suspension over an alleged anomalous courier service deal between the PNP and a private firm for the delivery of firearms licenses.

“To this Office, President Aquino’s act of utilizing the services of Purisima for Oplan Exodus set into motion the latter’s participation and involvement therein prior to and during its implementation,” the ombudsman said.

The ombudsman found no merit to arguments raised by Aquino in his motion for reconsideration that Purisima only acted as his “resource person” regarding Oplan Exodus and did not in any way participate in the operation’s planning and implementation.

The ombudsman said the meetings among Aquino, Purisima and Napeñas at Malacañang in December 2014 as well as the exchange of text messages between Aquino and Purisima before and during the actual day of the operation showed otherwise, as the latter even exerted “a degree of authority and discretion over Napeñas.”

“To this Office, however, the evidence on record regarding the extent of Purisima’s actual participation in Oplan Exodus shows that he was certainly much more than a mere resource person,” the ombudsman said.

“That President Aquino utilized the services of the preventively suspended Purisima, prior to and during the implementation, thereby giving Purisima an active role in Oplan Exodus as he was exercising a degree of authority and discretion over Napeñas, is the crux of the finding of probable cause against President Aquino,” it added.

Another setback for VACC

Meanwhile, in the same decision, the ombudsman also denied the motion for reconsideration of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption seeking the filing of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide against Aquino, Purisima and Napeñas.

The VACC is representing the families of the SAF troopers killed in the incident.

The ombudsman maintained that the acts of Aquino, Purisima and Napeñas were not the “proximate legal cause” of the death of the 44 SAF commandos but rather the “intentional act of shooting by the hostile forces.”

In a text message to reporters, Aquino’s spokesperson Abigail Valte said the former president has already conferred with his legal team “to determine his next course of action regarding this case.”

VACC founding chairman Dante Jimenez denounced the ombudsman decision, saying it was Morales’ way of shielding Aquino from possible conviction.

Morales, a retired Supreme Court associate justice, was appointed by Aquino as ombudsman in 2011.

Jimenez said they are now studying the possibility of filing an impeachment complaint against Morales.

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