THE recommendation of the Office of the Ombudsman to lodge criminal charges against former President Benigno Aquino III over the 2015 Mamasapano carnage that left 44 elite police dead would not flourish, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday.
On the sidelines of ceremonial turn-over of draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, Duterte said it was ludicrous for Ombudsman Conchita Morales to order the indictment of Aquino for his supposed accountability in the botched operation launched by Special Action Force (SAF) troopers in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25, 2015.
The President also branded Morales’ order as “silly.”
“You know, charging Aquino for that [Mamasapano fiasco is] silly. Actually, my term is a silly charge,” Duterte told palace reporters.
“That’s why the charge against Aquino will fail,” he added.
Duterte’s statement came after Morales approved a resolution ordering the filing of charges Aquino for Usurpation of Authority and violation of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
His remark was contrary to the statements of his allies who welcomed the move of the Office of the Ombudsman.
On July 1, Malacañang said it respects the anti-graft body’s recommendation to file charges against Aquino as the current administration seeks to “finally bring justice to the victims and families of the fallen [soldiers] and put closure to the issue as part of the haling process.”
Duterte’s chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo also said over the weekend that the “time for reckoning” for Aquino has “finally come.”
But Duterte believed otherwise, saying that Aquino did not commit usurpation of authority at the time the botched operation happened because as the country’s highest elected official, he had the exclusive power to overstep the powers of the security forces.
He also defended Aquino for consulting former police chief Director General Alan Purisima on the operation that aimed at arresting high-value terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Ahmad Ukmad Uson.
Purisima, along with dismissed SAF chief Getulio Napeñas, was tagged by the Ombudsman as Aquino’s co-conspirators.
“He (Aquino) can call anybody he wants. When he said, ‘Come here, Alan Purisima, you are my chief sa [PNP]. Help me here.’ What’s wrong with that? He was not usurping. He did not took an oath there and said that I am assuming. He was just being consulted,” the President said.
“All the powers there and all of the offices there participating are merged into one person, and that is the President. The President is the sole organ of the presidency. So he (Aquino) will really be acquitted,” he added.
Around 400 SAF members launched Oplan Exodus to serve standing warrants against the two terrorists but it instead resulted in a firefight, claiming the lives of 44 commandos.
Duterte said the only burden of Aquino was there were indeed "shortcomings" in the launched operation, noting that there was no assistance and reinforcements given to SAF commandos engaged in a firefight.
Duterte said the foiled Oplan Exodus was merely a “military failure operation" and even stressed that the troops were “successful,” in the sense that they were able to secure Marwan’s fingers.
“It was a success in the sense that they were able to secure the fingers at the cost of lives. So it’s more of military failure operation,” the Chief Executive said.
Asked then what charges should be filed against Aquino, Duterte said: “None. It’s really failure. It was an operation. It was a success in the sense that they were able to get the fingers of Marwan... To the one who decided [to file charges against Aquino] was really ludicrous." (SunStar Philippines)