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Ombudsman upholds Aquino’s indictment over Mamasapano

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The Office of the Ombudsman has denied the appeal of former President Benigno S. Aquino III, who was indicted for graft and usurpation of authority over his alleged involvement in the Mamasapano tragedy, clearing the way for the filing of the criminal information against the ex-Chief Executive before the Sandiganbayan.

In a resolution approved on September 11, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales rejected Aquino’s motion for partial reconsideration, which argued that his indictment was a “misappreciation of facts and specious application of the law” and therefore, warrants the outright dismissal of the complaint against him.

The Ombudsman belied Aquino’s claim that he was not given the opportunity “to adequately address and refute the charges” filed against him. The Ombudsman asserted that the former President was “accorded the opportunity to be heard during the conduct of (the) preliminary investigation.”

Aquino was indicted for graft in violation of Section 3(a) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for allegedly defying the Ombudsman’s earlier preventive suspension order on former Police Chief Alan Purisima when he purportedly allowed the ex-top cop to be involved in the “Oplan Exodus” operation against international terrorist Marwan in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 2015.

The Ombudsman meted a preventive suspension against Purisima for his alleged part in the anomalous Werfast gun courier contract.

Aquino was also indicted for usurpation of authority for allegedly conspiring with Purisima and sacked Special Action Force (SAF) commander Getulio Napeñas, both earlier charged before the Sandiganbayan with graft and usurpation of powers for allegedly bypassing the chain of command.

The former police officials’ indictment stemmed from their failure to coordinate with the military about the Mamasapano raid, which resulted in the delayed deployment of reinforcements for the elite SAF members, who got trapped in the crossfire with fighters from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and other private armed groups in the area.

“President Aquino himself has repeatedly admitted and asserted in his counter-affidavit and in the instant motion that he utilized the services of Purisima for Oplan Exodus, albeit he is insisting that it was only for a limited role of a resource person,” the Ombudsman said.

“To this Office, however, the evidence on record regarding the extent of Purisima’s actual participation in Oplan Exodus… shows that he was certainly much more than being a resource person,” the Ombudsman added.

The Ombudsman said it found no reason to reverse its earlier indictment for graft and usurpation of powers against Aquino, Purisima and Napeñas, especially because it was Aquino’s role which set the motion for Purisima’s involvement.

“In sum, the finding of probable cause against President Aquino in relation to his participation in the violation of Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code (Usurpation of Official Functions) and Section 3(a) of the Republic Act 3019 still stands,” the Ombudsman ruled.

“Let the appropriate information be filed with the proper court,” it added.

Additionally, the Ombudsman has denied the motion filed by the surviving kin of the slain SAF members, appealing the previous decision of the Ombudsman dismissing the reckless imprudence case against Aquino, Purisima and Napeñas.

The Ombudsman said there was no new evidence presented to warrant the reversal of the dismissal of the case on reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and injuries against Aquino. – Inquirer.net

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