Headlines Skinning Left, pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
Headlines ( Leaderboard Top ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Ombudsman seeks consolidation of Mamasapano cases

The prosecution said the cases against Aquino must be consolidated with the pending cases before the Fourth Division, which the ombudsman filed last year against former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima and former PNP-Special Action Force (SAF) director Getulio Napeñas Jr. Malacañang Photo Bureau/Benhur Arcayan, File

MANILA, Philippines — Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, an appointee of former president Benigno Aquino III, might lose jurisdiction over the criminal cases recently filed against the latter in connection with the 2015 Mamasapano incident.

In an 11-page motion filed on Nov. 23 and released to the media yesterday, the Office of the Ombudsman’s prosecution team asked the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division headed by Tang to allow the transfer of the cases – filed against Aquino early this month – to the court’s Fourth Division.

The prosecution said the cases against Aquino must be consolidated with the pending cases before the Fourth Division, which the ombudsman filed last year against former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima and former PNP-Special Action Force (SAF) director Getulio Napeñas Jr.

The prosecution said since all the cases stemmed from a single incident, their consolidation is necessary to accord the respondents “the benefit of saving time and litigation costs considering that they will appear before a single court which shall hear the totality” of the charges.

“In the same manner, the prosecution will not be unduly burdened with the separate presentation of the same witnesses and same set of documents before two different courts trying virtually the same case,” the prosecution added.

The prosecution said the consolidation will also allow the Fourth Division to issue orders, resolutions or decisions that are based on a complete and holistic appreciation of the cases from a complete set of facts.

Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

The Fourth Division is chaired by Associate Justice Alex Quiroz, an appointee of former president and incumbent Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. 

The Fourth Division is also composed of senior member Associate Justice Reynaldo Cruz and junior member Associate Justice Bayani Jacinto. Cruz was appointed by Aquino in January 2016 shortly before the end of his presidency while Jacinto was appointed by President Duterte last May.

Filed by the ombudsman on Nov. 8, the cases against Aquino focused on his alleged violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices and usurpation of official functions under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code.

The cases were raffled off on Nov. 10 and went to the Third Division chaired by Tang.

Tang was appointed by Aquino as an associate justice of the Sandiganbayan in 2012 and after a year, was appointed as the presiding justice.

Aside from Tang, the Third Division is composed of senior member Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez, a former Quezon City regional trial court judge who was appointed by Duterte to the Sandiganbayan in December last year; and sitting member Sarah Jane Fernandez,  an appointee of Aquino and chairperson of the court’s Sixth Division, who is just serving as a “warm body” for the Third Division as Duterte has yet to fill in four vacant positions at the Sandiganbayan.

Tang earlier said that her division would be fair in handling the cases against Aquino, assuring that her appointment by the latter “will never influence whatever action that the court will take in the case.”

Tang, in an earlier interview with reporters, also said there was no reason for her to inhibit from handling the cases against Aquino. She, however, added that her division would confer with the Fourth Division to study the possibility of consolidating the cases.

Filed by the ombudsman in December last year, the cases against Purisima and Napeñas also involved graft and usurpation of official functions. They were arraigned before the Fourth Division early this year and entered a not guilty plea for both cases.

The cases stemmed from Aquino’s alleged act of allowing Purisima, then under suspension, to participate in the planning and implementation of Oplan Exodus, a police operation that aimed to neutralize Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Filipino bomb maker Abdul Basit Usman.

The operation resulted in the death of over 60 people including 44 members of the PNP-SAF.

Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
  • Follow Us:
Healines Skinning Right, pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1