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Aquino charged before Sandiganbayan over Mamasapano

In this file photo, then President Benigno Aquino III, wearing a black arm band, leaves the podium shortly after offering prayers for the police commandos killed in the January 25, 2015 Mamasapano mission. AP/Bullit Marquez
MANILA, Philippines (Updated 12:44 p.m.) — The Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday officially filed graft and usurpation of authority charges against former President Benigno Aquino III over the Mamasapano clash in January 2015.
 
The ombudsman's office filed its information or charge sheet against Aquino before the Sandiganbayan for the deaths of more than 60 people, including 44 police Special Action Force commandos,in a firefight in remote Mamasapano town in Maguindanao in January 2015.
 
The Office of the Ombudsman recommends bail of P30,000 for graft and P10,000 for usurpation, respectively. 
 
Based on the charge sheet, Aquino is facing one count graft and one count of usurpation of authority.

Mamasapano

The charge stemmed from the complaint filed by non-government organization Volunteers against Crime and Corruption. The anti-crime group wants Aquino indicted on reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide but the ombudsman, in its July resolution, said that it found "no probable cause" to charge the former president with reckless imprudence.
 
The ombudsman, instead, charged Aquino for "acting, as such, in conspiracy" with then-suspended national police chief Alan Purisima in Oplan Exodus that aimed to neutralize Malaysian terrorist  Zulkifli bin Hir Marwan — also known as Marwan — and Filipino bomb maker Abdul Basit Usman.
 
Purisima and other police officers had, at the time, been placed under preventive suspension by the Ombudsman for an allegedly anomalous contract with a courier company.
 
The ombudsman, in its June 2017 decision, cited the meetings and text messages between Aquino and Purisima as indication that the former president allowed him to play a 'major role' in the operation.
 
The PNP Special Action Force's Oplan Exodus resulted in 44 deaths among the police commandos. Another 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters and five civilians were killed in the clash, which a police investigation blamed on poor planning, coordination and execution.
 
Police Special Action Force commandos were trapped in a firefight as they were returning from killing Marwan. 
 
 
Aquino was charged in violation of Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code and violation of Section 3 (a) of the Repubic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
 
Purisima and former PNP-SAF director Getulio Napeñas Jr. were charged before the anti-graft court earlier.

Aquino appeal

Aquino filed an appeal on July 19, calling the Ombudsman resolution as  “patently erroneous and bereft of any merit.”
 
The former president said that the resolution was grounded on "highly inaccurate and flawed facts." Aquino also stressed that Purisima only acted as a "resource person" on Oplan Exodus.
 
But, on September 5, the Office of the Ombudsman junked the motion for reconsideration filed by Aquino and upheld its decision finding probable cause to charge the former president.
 
“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 decision signed by Ombudsman Conchita Caprio-Morales reads. — with a report from Elizabeth Marcelo
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