THE filing of charges against former president Benigno Aquino 3rd will put “closure” on his alleged culpability in the deaths of 44 police commandos in the hands of Muslim rebels in Maguindanao in January 2015, according to Sen. Grace Poe on Saturday.
Poe issued the statement when asked about the decision of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to file graft charges against the former chief executive for the Mamasapano incident.
In 2015, Poe, then head of the committee on public order that investigated the killings in Mamasapano later wrote in her report that Aquino was “ultimately liable” for the death of the men from the Special Action Force (SAF).
Of the charges by the Ombudsman, Poe said: “President Noynoy was not given the chance to explain himself before the Senate.”
(”Noynoy” is the nickname of the former president.)
“Now that there is already a case like this, he’ll now have the opportunity to defend himself,” Poe said in an interview in Iloilo City where she spoke before members of the Philippine-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCCI).
“We’ll now see that this will serve as an opportunity to have a closure to Mamasapano (tragedy). Until now, the affected (families of the) victims still don’t know who were charged in court,” she said.
Poe added, “And if you believe that you have not done anything wrong, you should defend yourself.”
The SAF were sent to Mamasapano, Maguindanao in January 2015 to execute “Oplan Exodus”, which was aimed at arresting Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir and Filipino bomb-maker Basit Usman.
The SAF commandos, however, were engaged in a firefight
by Muslim supporters and sympathizers of the terrorists, resulting in the death of 44 from the elite troops.
An investigation into the incident revealed that Aquino had put then suspended Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima at the helm of “Oplan Exodus”.
At that time, Purisima was serving suspension pending results of an investigation into his involvement in an alleged anomalous courier service contract.
Purisima and 10 other police officers were eventually dismissed from service by the Ombudsman after they were found administratively guilty of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and grave abuse of authority. The officials were forfeited their retirement benefits and barred from being reemployed in government.
Purisima is awaiting trial for the same case. BERNADETTE TAMAYO