• Ombudsman firm on graft raps vs Aquino

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    The Office of the Ombudsman stood pat on its ruling to file charges of graft and usurpation of official functions at the Sandiganbayan against former president Benigno Aquino 3rd, former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and former Special Action Force (SAF) Director Getulio Napeñas in connection with the police operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in 2015.

    A 26-page consolidated order approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on September 11 denied Aquino’s motion for reconsideration. Aquino had maintained that his actions during the briefing for Oplan Exodus and its implementation “were perfectly within the bounds” of his powers.

    “The Office finds probable cause that [former]President Aquino’s act of utilizing the services of the preventively suspended Purisima for Oplan Exodus caused Purisima to perform, under pretense of official position the acts pertaining to the PNP Chief without being lawfully entitled to do so, in violation of Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code on usurpation of official functions,” the Ombudsman said.

    The Ombudsman preventively suspended Purisima for six months in December 2014 pending investigation of the allegedly anomalous courier deal forged by the PNP with Werfast Documentation Agency, Inc. in 2011. The PNP terminated the deal in March 2014.

    The Office earlier found probable cause to charge Aquino “in conspiracy with Purisima and Napeñas.

    The kin of some of the 44 police commandos who died in the Mamasapano operation also sought reconsideration and asked that the respondents be charged with 44 counts of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide.

    The complainants, who were assisted by lawyer Ferdinand Topacio of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, alleged that “[t]he negligence of former president Aquino is the proximate cause of the deaths of SAF 44.”

    The Ombudsman denied the plea, saying that “in addition to the absence of probable cause, the counsel’s theory that 44 counts of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide lie against respondents is clearly bereft of merit.”

    Abigail Valte, who was deputy presidential spokesperson during Aquino’s term as president, said on Thursday that he “will meet with his legal team to determine his next course of action regarding this case.”

    The Mamasapano operation, known as Oplan Exodus, aimed to capture Marwan and his protégé Abdulbasit Usman. Marwan was killed while Usman escaped.

    Over 60 people, including 44 PNP-SAF members were killed in the gun battle that ensued. REINA TOLENTINO

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