PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte’s top legal adviser said the “time of reckoning” has come for Benigno Aquino 3rd who was indicted for graft over his alleged hand in the botched 2015 Mamasapano operation.
“Sooner or later the law will catch up on those who use power or wealth to shield themselves from the majesty of the law,” Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said in a statement on Saturday.
“There is a time for reckoning and the time has finally come for the former President. Dura Lex Sed Lex, no power nor wealth can escape from it, it can only delay its coming, but when it does, it operates ex propio vigore (with full force and effect),” he added.
On Friday, the Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the filing of criminal charges against Aquino for his liability in the Mamasapano massacre that cost the lives of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) officers.
In her resolution, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the filing of charges against Aquino for usurpation of authority (Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code) and violation of Section 3(a) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019).
Also ordered charged as Aquino’s co-accused were former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and former SAF director Getulio Napeñas Jr.
Purisima and Napeñas are facing separate cases of graft and usurpation before the Sandiganbayan also in connection with the Mamasapano incident.
On January 24, 2015, about 400 members of elite police force launched “Oplan Exodus” to serve standing warrants against Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Ahmad Ukmad Uson in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
The SAF operation, however, resulted in a firefight that lasted for several hours, killing around 44 police commandos.
On January 24 or a year after the botched Mamasapano operation, Duterte said there was a violation committed when the past administration sent the elite police in an operation against high value targets.
The President said his predecessor, Aquino, fed the SAF troopers “to the lion’s den to be eaten by death.” He also pledged the families of slain SAF troopers that his administration would serve the justice they deserved.
Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said the Ombudsman’s order was in line with the President’s hope to “put closure to the issue.”
“The President recognizes the heroic sacrifice of the PNP-SAF 44. And it is his – and the nation’s – hope to finally bring justice to the victims and families of the Fallen 44 and put closure to the issue as part of the healing process,” Abella said.