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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Duterte denies hand in homicide raps vs Aquino

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday, January 27, denies he is behind the move in the filing of homicide charges against former president Benigno Aquino III over the bungled Mamasapano operation that killed 44 police commandos three years ago.

Duterte said it was "not his style" to pursue any cases against his predecessor.

"[Aquino] is already facing charges. [Former] president Aquino, I said, it's not my style, it's not my system," the President said in an interview in Davao City upon his arrival from India.

"That [idea to file homicide cases against Aquino] did not come from me. Ask anyone, that's not my style," he added.

He made the remark after Solicitor General Jose Calida sought the filing of 44 counts of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide against Aquino, in connection with the deaths of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers in a botched operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25, 2015.

Calida, on Thursday, filed a manifestation urging the Supreme Court to direct the Office of the Ombudsman to reverse its ruling junking the reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide cases against Aquino.

Calida also wanted to file homicide charges against former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima, and former SAF director Getulio Napeñas, who he insisted had a role in the deaths of the SAF commandos.

On January 24, 2015, around 400 members of the elite police force carried out Oplan Exodus to serve standing warrants against Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Ahmad Ukmad Uson in Barangay Tukalanipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

The SAF operation, however, resulted in a firefight that lasted for several hours, killing around 44 police commandos.

On July 14, 2017, the Ombudsman dismissed the homicide cases filed against Aquino and instead found probable cause to charge the former president with graft and usurpation of authority "in conspiracy" with Purisima and Napeñas.

The anti-graft body on November 8, 2017 officially filed graft and usurpation of authority charges against Aquino before the Sandiganbayan, in connection with the 2015 Mamasapano encounter.

Calida, in his manifestation, claimed that the Ombudsman committed grave abuse of discretion in dismissing the reckless imprudence complaint against Aquino, Purisima, and Napeñas.

He insisted that the liability of Aquino, Purisima and Napeñas over the Mamasapano carnage was grounded on the "faulty planning and execution of Oplan Exodus."

He added that Aquino is accountable for the deaths of 44 SAF troopers as he had "full knowledge" with the Oplan Exodus' operational details.

"To iterate, respondent Aquino's criminal negligence consists in his active participation and direct involvement in the whole process as he helped plan Oplan Exodus with gross inexcusable negligence and approved the whole operation with full knowledge," the Solicitor General said.

"The acts of negligence of [Aquino, Purisima, and Napeñas] clearly show that probable cause exists to indict them for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and there is grave abuse of discretion on the part of the [Ombudsman]," he added.

While Duterte said he had nothing to do with Calida's recommendation to file homicide cases against Aquino, he said his only sentiment was why did the former president allow SAF members to die in the operation.

"If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong. On Mamasapano, I have one regret. I have sentiment there," the President said. "I'm not prepared to accuse personally but my only question is, why did you let our elite force to be trapped there and eventually die?" (SunStar Philippines)
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