Appropriate charges can still be filed, however, against Purisima and Napeñas, according to the Sandiganbayan.
Sandigan drops raps vs Napeñas, Purisima
Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - January 22, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan yesterday dismissed the graft and usurpation charges filed against former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Allan Purisima and former Special Action Force director Getulio Napeñas Jr. in connection with the Mamasapano massacre in 2015.

Appropriate charges can still be filed, however, against Purisima and Napeñas, according to the Sandiganbayan.

The order to dismiss the charges came five months after the anti-graft court approved a motion of the Office of the Ombudsman seeking to withdraw similar cases filed against former president Benigno Aquino III.

The Sandiganbayan noted that the dismissal of the criminal complaints did not mean that the accused had no liability over the incident that resulted in the death of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in January 2015.

It said it was merely ruling on the accusations that Purisima and Napeñas violated Section 3(a) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and usurped official functions in carrying out the police operation dubbed Oplan Exodus.

“What the court merely ruled is the non-existence of probable cause against Napeñas in both charges and the insufficiency of the allegations in the information filed against Purisima,” it said.

Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Associate Bayani Jacinto issued separate dissenting opinions, disagreeing with the decision.

The anti-graft court said it is dismissing the cases against Purisima and Napeñas “without prejudice to filing of appropriate charges against them.”

The Sandiganbayan said both accused could not be charged of violating Section 3(a) of RA 3019, which penalizes acts of “persuading, inducing or influencing a public official to perform acts that violate rules and regulations promulgated by competent authorities.”

It said there was no evidence showing Purisima or Napeñas received or expected to receive any consideration when the former supposedly influenced the other to violate the PNP chain of command.

The court said Purisima was under preventive suspension and technically not the PNP chief at the time.

“There is no mention in the information, nor any evidence on record, that accused Napeñas received or expected to receive any material remuneration or consideration therefor,” said the decision dated Jan. 21, 2020.

On charges of usurpation against Purisima, who performed the function of PNP chief even as he was suspended, the court said the pieces of evidence presented were insufficient. 

“It could not be said that Purisima was under the pretense of being a PNP chief because he was ordered by his president and commander-in-chief to perform such supervision and monitoring,” the ruling said.

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