President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday the cases the Ombudsman had recommended against his predecessor, Benigno Aquino 3rd, over the latter’s alleged liability in the 2015 bungled Mamasapano operation will not flourish.
In Malacañang, the President described the charges of graft and usurpation of authority against Aquino as “silly” and bound to fail.
“Charging Aquino for that, silly. Actually, my term there, it’s a silly charge,” the President told reporters.
Aquino was ordered indicted on Friday for graft and usurpation of authority in conspiracy with former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and former PNP Special Action Force (SAF) Director Getulio Napeñas Jr. for the botched January 2015 counter-terrorism operation that led to the deaths of 60 people including 44 commandos.
Aquino was held liable for allowing the operation, dubbed “Oplan Exodus,” to proceed despite the fact that Purisima was suspended amid an investigation over an anomalous PNP contract.
The Ombudsman dismissed a complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide by arguing that the gunfight with Moro rebels in Mamasapano was the “proximate cause” of the deaths of the 44 SAF men.
Duterte however said that, as president, Aquino had every right to ask for advice from suspended Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima on the Mamasapano operation.
“Hindi mo masabi [You can’t say] usurpation of authority because lahat na ‘yung sinabi nila are merged in one person, the Chief Executive, the President. He can call anybody to help him fight a criminal operation there. He was not using an administrative talent in appointments, in signing. He was just asking for the advice from a professional police. I do not see anything wrong there,” Duterte said.
“Nothing was signed. Nothing was agreed by Purisima except that he was helping the President implement the law. Ngayon, kung sino ‘yung utusan niya wala kang pakialam [Now, whoever he gives instructions to, you have no right to interfere] because he has the trust [of the President],” he added.
“The charges are there to ensure its failure…He [Purisima] was just being consulted. Kaya ‘yung charge kay Aquino will fail,” Duterte said.
VACC to press homicide charge vs Aquino
Anti-crime advocates will ask the Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday to reconsider its decision to drop a complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide against Aquino in connection with the 2015 Mamasapano massacre.
Dante Jimenez, founding chairman of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), said on Monday his group will beat the five-day deadline given by the Ombudsman to file their motion for reconsideration.
“It is like a bus accident where 44 people died. The driver had no license to drive. Of course, the driver and the operator or owner of the bus are guilty here of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide. As Commander in Chief, then president Aquino is both administratively and criminally liable. He authored this by meeting the people in Malacañan Palace before the execution,” Jimenez told a forum yesterday at Manila Hotel.
Jimenez said at least 11 relatives of the 44 SAF members had signified their intention to sign the motion for reconsideration.