OMBUDSMAN Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the filing of charges against former President Benigno Aquino III before the Sandiganbayan after she junked his motion for reconsideration.
In a statement released Thursday, the Office of the Ombudsman said Morales affirmed the finding of probable cause to charge Aquino for the botched 2015 Mamasapano operation, resulting to the death of 44 members of the police Special Action Force (SAF).
Aquino will face trial for one count of violation of Section 3(a) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act 3019) and one count of Usurpation of Official Functions (Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code).
Morales denied the separate motions for reconsideration filed by Aquino and complainants Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and affirmed the findings contained in the June 13, 2017 Consolidated Resolution.
"President Aquino's act of utilizing the services of the preventively suspended [Alan] Purisima for Oplan Exodus prior to and during its implementation, despite an OIC PNP Chief having been already designated, 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 RPC on Usurpation of Official Functions," Carpio said.
"President Aquino's act of utilizing the services of Purisima for Oplan Exodus under the aforesaid circumstances constituted an act of persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform acts constituting a violation of the order of preventive suspension and a commission of usurpation of official functions in violation of Section 3(a) of RA 3019," she added.
In his motion for reconsideration, Aquino stressed that all the actions he carried out during the briefing for Oplan Exodus and its implementation were perfectly within the bounds of his powers and functions as the President of the Philippines and Chief Executive.
On the other hand, the VACC said Aquino’s negligence is the proximate cause of the deaths of 44 SAF soldiers within the contemplation of the law on reckless imprudence.
Complainants added that the first act that set off the chain of events that led to the death of SAF 44 was Aquino’s reckless imprudence and negligence in at least three instances: approving Oplan Exodus which was later found to have serious flaws; allowing suspended Purisima to lead and oversee Oplan Exodus, tactically, strategically and operationally; and failing to send reinforcement and aid to the SAF 44 as they were besieged by superior anti-government forces, until they died.
In junking the VACC motion, Morales said aside from 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."
In affirming the charges, the Ombudsman reiterated that "any negligence during the planning, preparation and actual implementation of Oplan Exodus was subsequently broken by the occurrence of an efficient intervening cause," which was the intentional act of shooting by the hostile forces.
"On certain points of law concerning the quasi-offense of reckless imprudence, the careless act is single whether the injurious result affects one person or several persons, and criminal negligence remains one and the same and cannot be split into different crimes and prosecutions," she added.
In other words, in an instance of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide, only one count of Information may be filed against an accused regardless of the number of deaths involved, and only one penalty is imposed, not as many counts as the number of deaths, she explained. (SDR/SunStar Philippines)