OMBUDSMAN Conchita Carpio-Morales has ordered the filing of criminal charges against former President Benigno Aquino III and two former police officials for their alleged liability in the 2015 Mamasapano massacre.
In a resolution approved Friday, July 14, Morales said Aquino would be charged for violation of Article 177 or usurpation of authority of the Revised Penal Code and of Section 3(a) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Also to face charges as Aquino's co-conspirators are former Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Alan Purisima and Director Getulio Napeñas of the PNP-Special Action Force (SAF).
During the Aquino administration, an anti-terrorism operation dubbed as "Oplan Exodus" was launched. Some 400 highly-trained SAF commandos tried to serve warrants of arrest on January 24, 2015, against international terrorists Zulkifli Bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Ahmad Uson in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. While Marwan was killed, the commandos encountered Moro rebels in the area, including the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, resulting in the death of the 44 police officers.
Morales gave weight on Aquino's alleged criminal negligence for allowing Purisima, who was suspended at that time, to participate in the planning and in running the operation.
“There is no gainsaying that President Aquino was fully aware that the Office of the Ombudsman had placed Purisima under preventive suspension at that time,” Morales said.
Despite the suspension, the Ombudsman said, that text messages between Aquino and Purisima showed that the suspended police chief played a major role in the botched operation.
“Purisima, despite being under preventive suspension, indeed played an active role in Oplan Exodus, as shown by all the record of SMS exchanges and findings in the Senate Committee Report on the Mamasapano incident, to the point that he was exercising a degree of authority and discretion over Napeñas and consequently, over the operation,” the Consolidated Resolution said.
Morales explained that a public officer who is under preventive suspension is barred from performing any public functions and from meddling into the affairs of the government.
"In other words, Purisima would not have been placed in such a position of continuing to conduct himself, in relation to Oplan Exodus, in a manner as if he was not under preventive suspension at that time, from his position as PNP chief, were it not for the complicity and influence of President Aquino,” she said.
With Aquino's "complicity and influence," the Ombudsman said, the former President violated the order for Purisima's preventive suspension and therefore there is probable cause to charge him for violating Section 3(a) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Under Section 3(a) of the said law, it shall be unlawful for any public officer to persuade, induce or influence 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 the official duties of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced to commit such violation or offense.
Meantime, under Article 177, usurpation of authority is committed by any person who shall knowingly and falsely represent himself to be an officer, agent or representative of any department or agency of the Philippine Government, or who, under pretense of official position, shall perform any act pertaining to any person in authority or public officer of the Philippine Government, or any agency thereof, without being lawfully entitled to do so. (SDR/SunStar Philippines)