File photo shows former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.
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Sandiganbayan grants withdrawal of graft, usurpation cases vs Aquino over Mamasapano
(Philstar.com) - August 22, 2019 - 9:47pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has granted the motion of the Office of the Ombudsman to withdraw the graft and usurpation of authority cases filed against former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III for his role in the bloody Mamasapano incident four years ago.

The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division on Thursday granted the motion to withdraw information filed by Ombudsman Samuel Martires late June, The STAR reported.

Martires moved to withdraw the cases, saying he found no sufficient ground and evidence to charge Aquino for graft and usurpation of official functions “being then the president of the Republic of the Philippines during the time material to these cases.”

He asked the Sandiganbayan to allow the withdrawal of cases against Aquino “without prejudice to the filing of appropriate charges against the accused after the conduct of preliminary investigation.”

The Sandiganbayan granted the ombudsman’s motion to withdraw following the Supreme Court’s lifting of the temporary restraining order on the trial over the 2015 Mamasapano clash this month. 

The lifting of the halt order may also pave the way for the filing of a different charge against Aquino. Martires had stressed the ombudsman’s withdrawal is without prejudice to the filing of appropriate charges once his office is finished conducting another investigation into the clash.

The case stemmed from the January 25, 2015 operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao that resulted in the deaths of over 60 people, including 44 members of the Special Action Force.

In November 2017, the Office of the Ombudsman—then led by former graft buster Conchita Carpio-Morales—filed graft and usurpation of authority charges against the former chief executive.

Graft carries a maximum penalty of 15 years of imprisonment while penalty for usurpation of authority is up to six months of imprisonment which is convertible to just a fine.

In January 2018, the Office of the Solicitor General asked the SC to order the Office of the Ombudsman to file 44 counts of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide charges against Aquino and the two former police officials.

Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a 45-page manifestation intervening in the case filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption against the Office of the Ombudsman, Aquino, former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima and former SAF director Getulio Napeñas.

The ombudsman earlier dismissed the reckless imprudence complaint the VACC filed against Aquino. The ombudsman instead charged the former president for "acting, as such, in conspiracy," with Purisima, then suspended as Philippine National Police chief, in Oplan Exodus. — Gaea Katreena Cabico with report from Kristine Joy Patag

BENIGNO AQUINO III MAMASAPANO CLASH OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN SANDIGANBAYAN FOURTH DIVISION
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