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SAF 44 kin to file criminal charges vs Noy today

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - A day after stepping down from Malacañang, former president Benigno Aquino III is set to face criminal charges for the death of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos during the Mamasapano clash on Jan. 25 last year.

Families of the so-called “SAF 44” will file a complaint for multiple homicide against Aquino, former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and former SAF director Getulio Napeñas before the Office of the Ombudsman, according to the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).

VACC chair Dante Jimenez said the families would be represented by lawyer Ferdinand Topacio in filing the complaint at 11 a.m.

Jimenez hinted that more cases would be filed against Aquino following the end of his six-year presidency in connection with other controversies.

The filing of the complaint by the families of the SAF 44 comes after the Aquino administration’s failure to prosecute the commanders and members of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) tagged in the killing of the commandos.

The STAR reported yesterday that the Department of Justice (DOJ) resolution approving the indictment of 90 commanders and members of the MILF, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and private armed groups for the complex crime of direct assault with murder has been ready since February.

A highly placed source who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter bared that the administration was “hesitant” in filing the case in court as “this might offend the MILF and the ongoing peace process might be jeopardized.”

Aquino was widely criticized for his alleged lack of sympathy for the fallen commandos after skipping the ceremonies to honor them.

During the first anniversary of the incident last Jan. 25, Aquino expressed disappointment over the delay in the DOJ resolution of the case. He lamented that “justice delayed is justice denied” as he again vowed justice for the SAF 44.

The President appeased the families of the slain soldiers by confering on them the Medal of Valor (for Senior Insp. Gednat Tabdi and Police Officer 2 Romeo Cempron) and PNP Distinguished Conduct Medal for the 42 others.

The DOJ concluded the preliminary investigation last January, but did not release its resolution.         

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