ASKS OMBUDSMAN TO JUNK CASE
Published January 26, 2017 5:20pm
Updated January 26, 2017 5:34pm
By VIRGIL LOPEZ, GMA News
Former President Benigno Aquino III has asked the Office of the Ombudsman to dismiss the criminal complaint filed against him by the relatives of police commandos who perished in the Mamasapano encounter two years ago.
In his counter-affidavit, Aquino claimed he had no direct participation in Oplan Exodus, the operation against Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli Bin-hir alias Marwan and Filipino bandit leader Basit Usman on January 25, 2015.
"I had no direct participation in the planning, approval, and execution of Oplan Exodus," Aquino declared in his sworn statement.
In implementing Oplan Exodus, the Special Action Force commandos killed Marwan in the raid on the bandit hideout in Barangay Tukanalipao.
Forty-four troopers, however, died after they encountered Moro Islamic Liberation front members and other armed men as they were leaving the area.
"To stress, the plan was already finished and operational details prepared and set out when it was presented to me (merely for my information and not to seek my approval)—as in fact my direct approval was not even necessary to carry out such operation," Aquino said.
"Simply put, these factual allegations, by themselves, do not constitute and cannot be considered as amounting to negligence," he added.
Aquino is facing a complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, which is punishable by six months imprisonment, for the allegedly bungled law enforcement mission.
He was alleged to have helped plan and approved Oplan Exodus, and allowed then suspended Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima to participate in its planning and execution.
Aquino said the doctrine of command responsibility was not applicable in the case because the complainants "failed to establish and prove that a crime was being committed or had been committed by my subordinates."
He added that he had exercised "precaution and diligence" when he gave specific and direct orders for the SAF to coordinate the operation with the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
He defended Purisima's presence during the January 9, 2015 meeting in Bahay Pangarap even if the latter was under preventive suspension over an allegedly questionable contract the PNP entered into with a courier service.
"As Chief Executive, I have full authority and prerogative to secure all valuable information necessary for a successful operation to serve the warrants of arrest," Aquino said.
"To be sure, there is nothing illegal or criminal about securing his intimate knowledge and expertise about the past and ongoing operations and Oplans that had previously been undertaken to arrest high value targets during his term. Accordingly, Purisima's presence during the briefing could not possibly be the basis to charge me with any kind of criminal liability," Aquino said.
A total of 67 people died in the incident that is widely blamed for the non-passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law that was then pending in Congress.
The BBL, supposed to be the embodiment of the peace agreement with the MILF, would have given wider autonomy to the Bangsamoro in Mindanao.
Both the Senate and police Board of Inquiry reports affirmed that Aquino was ultimately responsible for the bloody operation.
Purisima and former SAF director Getulio Napeñas have been charged so far by the Ombudsman in connection with the Mamasapano incident.
They are facing graft and usurpation of official functions before the Sandiganbayan. —NB/KBK, GMA News
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