The Office of the Ombudsman has found sufficient grounds to file charges against former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and former Special Action Force (SAF) Director Getulio Napeñas at the Sandiganbayan for their alleged participation in the mounting of an anti-terrorist operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, that led to the killing of scores of police commandos.
“The [former]police officers are facing charges for usurpation of authority or official functions (Article 177, Revised Penal Code [RPC]) and violation of Section 3(a) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019),” a statement issued by the Ombudsman on Tuesday afternoon said.
Under the rules, the respondents can file motions for reconsideration on the Ombudsman’s ruling.
The charges are in connection with the counter-terrorist police operation in Mamasapano last year that ended in the death of over 60 people, including 44 SAF members.
The operation, known as Oplan Exodus, aimed to capture international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and his protégé Abdulbasit Usman. Marwan was killed while Usman escaped.
The Ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office (FIO), which conducted a fact-finding probe on the matter, filed a complaint before the Ombudsman against Purisima and Napeñas in July last year.
In its complaint, the FIO accused Purisima of usurping official functions and violating the chain of command when he actively participated in the planning and execution of the operation despite his suspension by the Ombudsman.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales suspended Purisima in December 2014 for six months in connection with an allegedly anomalous courier deal with Werfast Documentary Agency inked in 2011.
“During the period of Purisima’s suspension, he had no authority to perform the duties and functions, much less supervise and/or participate in the conceptualization, mission planning, and execution of a high-risk police operation,” the Ombudsman said.
“If Purisima had an iota of respect for the PNP chain of command, he should have informed, at the very least, of the details of Oplan Exodus during the turnover of his duties and functions to [then-] OIC-PNP chief [Leonardo] Espina,” added.
The Ombudsman said Purisima designated the SAF to conceptualize the operation and directed Napeñas to brief the President regarding Oplan Exodus.
The Ombudsman held that by taking orders from the suspended official, Napeñas acted in agreement to commit the crime of usurpation of official functions.
The Ombudsman also found Purisima and Napeñas administratively liable for grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.