MANILA-- The Office of the Ombudsman's decision to file criminal charges against former president Benigno "Nonoy" Aquino III in connection with his alleged liability in the Mamasapano massacre was lauded by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.
Raps stemmed from the ill-conceived Mamasapano encounter in Jan. 25, 2015 where 44 PNP-Special Action Force (SAF) commandos were killed.
"It's a welcome development. The factual bases of the resolution are by and large accurate," Aguirre said in a text message Sunday.
The justice official's statement is opposite to the claims of Aquino's camp that the Ombudsman appeared to have misappreciated the facts in the case in approving his indictment before the Sandiganbayan.
Aguirre said the findings of the anti-graft office on criminal liabilities of Aquino and former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima vindicated his former client, Director Getulio NapeAas of the PNP Special Action Force (PNP-SAF).
Aguirre noted that NapeAas defense is the liability of his higher officials as he was only following their orders.
Prior to his appointment in the Department of Justice (DOJ) last year, Aguirre served as lawyer of NapeAas -- reportedly his relative -- during the Senate inquiry and in succeeding criminal charges against the former police general.
The DOJ chief, however, has reserved his comment on the dissatisfaction of families of the so-called "SAF 44" due to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales' dismissal of their original complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide against Aquino and Purisima.
Last July 14, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the filing of criminal charges against former President Aquino for usurpation of authority and violation of Section 3(a) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act".
Standing as Aquino's co-conspirators are Purisima and NapeAas.
It can be recalled that close to midnight of Jan. 24, 2015, almost 400 highly-trained commandos belonging to the elite SAF, unilaterally launched "Oplan Exodus" to serve standing warrants of arrest against internationally-wanted terrorists Zulkifli Bin Hir alias "Marwan" and Ahmad Akmad Uson in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
In the ensuing firefight that lasted for several hours, 44 SAF troopers died in the line of duty.
According to the complainants, the criminal negligence of Aquino was based on several acts:
-- participation and assistance in the planning of Oplan Exodus with gross and inexcusable negligence;
-- approving the operation with full knowledge that it was flawed;
-- for allowing suspended PNP Chief Purisima not only to participate in the planning, but also in the running of said operation and proving information and intelligence, thereby giving pseudo-legal power to a suspended official; and
-- breach in the established norms inherent in a chain of command.
Morales said that "certainly a public officer who is under preventive suspension in 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."
Source: Philippine News Agency