4 years later, Palace urges Ombudsman to resolve SAF 44 case

4 years later, Palace urges Ombudsman to resolve SAF 44 case
Four years ago, 44 elite Special Action Force commandos died in a clash between Moro rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
Philstar.com, file

MANILA, Philippines —

MANILA, Philippines — As the country commemorates the lives of 44 elite police officers who died in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, Malacañang called on the Office of the Ombudsman to resolve the case filed against those responsible for their deaths.

On Jan. 25, 2015, 67 Filipinos-- including 44 Special Action Force commandos--died in a clash involving members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and other armed groups.

A police board that investigated the clash noted lack of coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and a ceasefire committee as well as poor planning in the operation against international terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir, also known as Marwan, and Filipino bombmaker Basit Usman.

Aside from the SAF troopers, 18 MILF fighters and five civilians died in the clash.

"Even as we continue to pray for the eternal repose of the souls of these gallant heroes who were recipients posthumously of the PNP Medal of Valor and as we share in the grief of their bereaved families, we urge the Office of the Ombudsman to resolve with dispatch the case filed against those who recklessly placed them in mortal peril," presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

WATCH: Albayalde leads PNP's memorial service for SAF 44

Malacañang stressed that the nation demands justice for the fallen police officers and prosecution for those responsible for the tragic incident.

"Never again will we allow a recurrence of such tragic event. Those in authority must learn from the mistakes of the past otherwise those valorous men in uniform would have died in vain," Panelo said.

In July 2017, the Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause to charge former President Benigno Aquino III with usurpation of authority and graft.

The former president had earlier claimed full responsibility for the deaths of the so-called SAF 44.

Aside from Aquino, former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima and former PNP-SAF director Getulio Napeñas Jr. were also charged with usurpation of authority under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. 

Last year, Solicitor General Jose Calida asked the Supreme Court to order the Office of the Ombudsman to file 44 counts of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide against Aquino, Purisima and Napeñas. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

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