Ombudsman to indict Purisima, Napeñas in Mamasapano incident
THE Office of the Ombudsman exonerated President Benigno Aquino 3rd of any criminal offense for his participation in planning of a police mission in the infamous Mamasapano incident early this year.
The special fact-finding team formed by the Office of the Ombudsman to look into the case said the President’s role did not amount to any ground for impeachment.
Malacañang on Wednesday said there is nothing to stop the Office of the Ombudsman from conducting a thorough investigation against those linked to the incident.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Palace respects the Ombudsman’s office it being an independent constitutional body.
“This is part of the legal process and we respect the actions of the Office of the Ombudsman as an independent constitutional body,” Coloma noted in a statement.
A report of the Senate Committee on Public Order, which conducted a congressional inquiry into the immediate aftermath of the incident, said Aquino should be “ultimately responsible” for allowing then-suspended Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director-General Alan Purisima to be involved in overseeing the mission code-named “Oplan (Operation Plan): Exodus.”
Instead, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales approved the investigating panel’s recommendation to file administrative and criminal charges against Purisima, former Special Action Force commander Getulio Napeñas and nine other police officers for their roles in the police mission.
“Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales approved the recommendation of the special panel of field investigators to initiate administrative adjudication and preliminary investigation against former police Director General Alan Purisima, former police Director Getulio Napeñas and nine other police officers in relation to what is known as the Mamasapano incident,” Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan said in a news briefing on Wednesday.
Purisima and Napeñas are facing administrative and criminal charges in connection with a “law enforcement mission” in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao code named “Oplan Exodus” which resulted in the killing of suspected international terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan as well as scores of individuals including 44 policemen from the PNP Special Action Force last January 25.
Purisima, Napeñas and then-Senior Supt. Fernando Mendez Jr., director of the PNP Intelligence Group, are facing charges of grave misconduct and violation of Section 3(a) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
This section prohibits officials from “persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with official duties of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced or influenced to commit such violation or offense.”
Purisima is also facing a charge of usurpation of official functions under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code.
The disgraced former PNP chief and Napeñas are also charged with neglect of duty along with Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, Senior Supt. Richard dela Rosa, Senior Supt. Edgar Monsalve, Senior. Supt. Abraham Abayari, Senior Supt. Raymond Train, Senior. Supt. Michael John Mangahis, Senior. Supt. Rey Ariño and Senior Insp. Recaredo Marasigan.
Train was one of the survivors of the Mamasapano firefight.
Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan said they initiated a fact-finding probe last February to look into possible persons responsible in, among others, the planning and conduct of the police operation.
“Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales approved the recommendation of the special panel of field investigators to initiate administrative adjudication and preliminary investigation against former police Director-General Alan Purisima, police Director Getulio Napeñas and nine other police officers in relation to what is known as the ‘Mamasapano incident,’” Rafanan said in a news briefing on Wednesday.
The fact-finding investigation stemmed from news reports and separate complaints filed by Fernando Perito, Pedrito Nepomuceno and Augusto Syjuco Jr.
While the complaints did not implead Aquino, “[n]onetheless the office motu propio looked into the allegations or reports on the participation of the President,” Rafanan said.
“And the special panel found that whatever participation the President may have had in the Mamasapano incident does not amount prima facie [based on a first impression]to a criminal offense, neither was his participation analogous to any of the impeachable offenses,” he added.
The Ombudsman’s field investigators filed the complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman last week, Rafanan said, adding that the respondents will be given time to file their counter-affidavits.
According to him, the complainants sought preventive suspension.
Under Section 24 of the Ombudsman Act of 1989, which provides for preventive suspension, two requisites must concur.
First is that that in the judgment of the Ombudsman or Deputy Ombudsman, the evidence of guilt is strong. The second may be met in either of three ways–(a) the offense charged involves dishonesty, oppression or grave misconduct or neglect in the performance of duty; (b) the charge would warrant removal from the service; or (c) the respondent’s continued stay in office may prejudice the case filed against him.
In December last year, Morales suspended Purisima for six months and eventually dismissed him last June for forging an anomalous courier deal with Werfast Documentary Agency in 2011.