Former president Benigno Aquino 3rd dismissed as “absurd” a complaint of criminal negligence filed against him, less than 24 hours after leaving office, by relatives of policemen killed in the Mamasapano carnage.
Aquino, who no longer enjoys presidential immunity as a private citizen, vowed to get back at those who would file “frivolous” charges against him.
“I have instructed my lawyers to study possible actions at the appropriate time against those who instigate the filing of frivolous cases, which are nothing more than harassment,” he said in a statement.
The warning came after Erlinda Alliaga and Warlito Mejia, parents respectively of slain police officers Robert Alliaga and Ephraim Mejia, filed a complaint for 44 counts of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide against Aquino, former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and former Special Action Force (SAF) director Getulio Napeñas before the Office of the Ombudsman.
The 36-page complaint said Aquino should be held liable for the “brutal bestial deaths” of the 44 elite policemen from the SAF “due to negligence, imprudence, lack of foresight and lack of skill in the planning, preparation and execution of Oplan Exodus,” the botched secret operation carried out on January 25, 2015 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, to neutralize international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan.”
Aquino, the complainants said, was ultimately responsible for the incident by allowing Purisima, back then suspended over an anomalous courier contract, to direct Oplan Exodus.
It was later revealed in various investigations that after Purisima briefed Aquino on Oplan Exodus, the former ordered Napeñas to keep the operation a secret from the Interior secretary, Manuel Roxas 2nd, and acting PNP chief Leonardo Espina.
The complainants were assisted by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption led by Dante Jimenez and legal counsel Ferdinand Topacio.
In his statement, Aquino scored Topacio for being an “attention-seeker.”
“I am curious as to how Atty. Ferdinand Topacio intends to support his absurd accusations in connection [with]the tragedy that happened in Mamasapano. I guess this is to be expected from an attention-seeker such as he,” he said.
Aquino has pinned the blame on Napeñas, saying he instructed the latter to coordinate with the military days before the deadly Mamasapano mission.
“The loss of the SAF 44 is a tragedy. I reiterate that if my instructions to then-SAF Director Getulio Napeñas were followed to the letter, perhaps the risks of the operation could have been minimized, and that this tragedy could have been averted,” he said.