MANILA - The Liberal Party on Wednesday stood by its stalwart former President Benigno Aquino III as he faced trial over his role in the 2015 anti-terror raid which led to the death of 44 elite policemen.
This as the Office of the Ombudsman haled the former commander-in-chief to the Sandiganbayan for his involvement in the botched raid.
In a statement, the LP said it is "unthinkable" for Aquino to make decisions that would endanger the lives of government troops. The party also expressed confidence that the former president would be able to prove his innocence.
"It is unthinkable for then President Benigno Aquino III to make a decision that would endanger the lives of our policemen and soldiers, or parade them helpless in the firing line. No President, or any father of the nation, would do that," the party said.
The Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday charged Aquino with graft and usurpation of authority in connection with the Mamasapano massacre.
The Ombudsman said Aquino "willfully, unlawfully and feloniously" allowed Director General Alan Purisima, then suspended chief of the Philippine National Police, to participate in planning the operation.
This after the anti-graft agency junked Aquino's motion to overturn his indictment last September, clearing the way for the filing of criminal information against him.
Aquino's cousin, Sen. Bam Aquino, said in a separate statement he is confident that the former president would face the charges against him and would be given the opportunity to defend himself.
"Sa simula pa lang, naging bukas na ang dating pangulong Aquino ukol sa kaniyang naging papel sa trahedya sa Mamasapano, kaya tiwala akong haharapin niya ang kaso ng buong tapang at katapatan," he said.
"Inaasahan naming mabibigyan na siya ng pagkakataon na ilabas ang katotohanan sa angkop na lugar," he added.
(From the start, former President Aquino has been open about his role in the Mamasapano tragedy, which is why I am confident that he will face the charges bravely and honestly. We hope that he will be given the chance to reveal the truth in the proper forum.)
The Liberal Party also maintained that Aquino, at the time, "only did what he deemed best and right under the situation."
"He did not commit any criminal act or violated any laws or the Constitution," the LP said.