Palace distances self from SC ruling on Aquino raps

MALACAÑANG on Wednesday, August 7, distanced itself from the Supreme Court's (SC) move to lift its temporary restraining order (TRO) on the trial against former President Benigno Aquino III over the 2015 Mamasapano fiasco.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the executive branch respects the judicial independence in the country.

He issued the statement, as he noted that the Palace has already been notified about the latest development on the graft and usurpation of authority cases filed against Aquino for his role in the bungled operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in 2015.

"In accordance with the policy that has long been practiced by this Administration, we refuse to comment on the action undertaken by the Supreme Court, which belongs to a separate and independent branch of government from ours," Panelo said.

"We cannot and we do not intend to interfere with the functions of other branches which are distinct from the Executive," he added.

Earlier Thursday, SC spokesperson Brian Hosaka confirmed that the high court lifted the halt order on the Mamasapano trial which was issued on February 28, 2018.

Aquino is facing graft and usurpation of authority cases in connection with the botched police operation in Mamasapano on January 25, which resulted in the deaths of over 60 people, including 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF).

The case stemmed from the SAF operation against Malaysian bombmaker Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Filipino terrorist Abdul Basit Usman in Tukanalipao village in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

The Supreme Court issued a TRO in February last year, just before Aquino was set to be arraigned.

On June 24, Ombudsman Samuel Martires moved to withdraw the charges lodged against Aquino due to insufficient ground and evidence.

Lifting the TRO means the Sandiganbayam can now act on Martires's request.

Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration would let the law take its course with regard to Aquino's case.

"The President and this Administration will always give deference to and uphold the rule of law regardless of the political and social stature of those involved in cases pending before the Judiciary," he said.

"We believe that the Office of the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan can tackle this matter with independence pursuant to their respective mandates. As these institutions afford each citizen his or her constitutional guarantees under the Bill of Rights, we expect the latter to respect the proceedings and bow to the majesty of the law," the Palace official added. (SunStar Philippines)


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