Ex-president Aquino to be charged with graft over Mamasapano massacre

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The Office of the Ombudsman has found basis to file charges against former president Benigno Aquino 3rd in connection with the deaths of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano in Maguindanao in 2015.

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In a statement on Friday, the Ombudsman also cited as Aquino’s co-respondents former Philippine National Police Chief Alan Purisima and former PNP-Special Action Force (SAF) head Getulio Napeñas.

The Ombudsman said it was levelling charges of graft and usurpation of authority against Aquino and the two police officials before the Sandiganbayan.

The Ombudsman said that “certainly a public officer who is under preventive suspension in barred from performing any public functions and from meddling into the affairs of the government. In other words, Purisima would not have been placed in such a position of continuing to conduct himself, in relation to Oplan Exodus, in a manner as if he was not under preventive suspension at that time, from his position as PNP chief, were it not for the complicity and influence of [then-]President Aquino.”

In December 2014, the Ombudsman had ordered the six-month preventive suspension of Purisima pending an investigation into the alleged anomalous courier deal forged by the PNP with Werfast Documentation Agency, Inc. in 2011.  The PNP had terminated the deal in March 2014.

Despite Purisima’s suspension, however, Aquino relied on his trusted aide to plan and enforce “Oplan Exodus”, which sought the arrest of international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan in Mamasapano by members of the PNP-SAF.

An ensuing gunbattle with Muslim insurgentsin January 2015 resulted in the deaths of 60 people, including 44 police commandos.

MA. REINA LEANNE C. TOLENTINO

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