The Ombudsman on Thursday affirmed the filing of graft and usurpation charges against former national police chief Alan Purisima and ex-Special Action Forces (SAF) director Getulio Napenas for their involvement in the bloody January 2015 Mamasapano operation, which left over 60 people dead, including 44 SAF commandos.
This, after the Ombudsman denied their appeal to reverse the decision which ordered the filing of the charges.
In a 40-page resolution last March, the Ombudsman ordered the immediate filing of graft and usurpation of authority or official functions charges against Purisima and Napeñas. The two former top-brass officials were also found administratively liable for grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
The Ombudsman pointed out that Purisima still participated and carried out Oplan Exodus while suspended over another pending case on the WERFAST courier service anomaly.
Meanwhile, Napeñas was also found liable for following orders from the then suspended PNP chief, bypassing then OIC-PNP Chief Deputy Director Leonardo Espina.
Purisima was ordered dismissed from December 9, 2014 to June 10, 2015. But according to the Ombudsman, Purisima and Napeñas still had top level meetings with the Armed Forces of the Philippines officials about Oplan Exodus, which started on December 23, 2014.
The Ombudsman also cited other key incidents which were considered grounds for the case such as the text message Napenas sent to Purisima requesting a meeting to discuss the report on operations; Purisima and Napeñas' meeting with the President about the mission; and Napeñas seeking Purisima's approval for the date of the operations.
Purisima also allegedly gave an intelligence packet to Napeñas and tasked the SAF to conceptualize the Marwan operation; directed Napeñas to brief the president regarding Oplan Exodus; approved the final date of operation, constantly received pre-operational updates from Napeñas; and monitored events and relayed crucial information to Napeñas during that fateful date and sought updates on the ground situation.
In their separate motions for reconsideration, both Purisima and Napeñas said the findings of the Ombudsman are not backed by evidence.
But Ombudsman explained that "the allegations in the criminal complaints, testimonies of AFP and SAF officials and other evidence submitted by complainants, including the findings of the PNP Board of Special Inquiry, Senate Inquiry Report on the Mamasapano Incident, and admissions made by some of the subordinate officials of Napeñas suffice to lead a person of ordinary caution and prudence to believe, or entertain an honest or strong suspicion, that usurpation of official functions and (graft) were, indeed, committed by Purisima and Napeñas."
The Ombudsman added that Purisima's defense that he
insisted that did not act beyond his authority as a suspended Chief after admitting to communicating with the president regarding Oplan Exodus, and Napenas' argument that the chain of command is a military concept that should not be applied to civilian organization like the PNP, are matters of defense that should be raised during the trial.
He added that he did not commit graft because Napeñas acted based on his judgment call as SAF director.
Meanwhile, Napeñas insisted that his actions during the planning and execution of Oplan Exodus were within his bounds as SAF director.
"It is recital of ultimate facts, clearly included and referred to Napeñas as having executed acts which tantamount to an agreement with Purisima to commit the crime of usurpation of official functions."
"As alleged in the complaints and supplied by the evidence on records leads to no other conclusion that Napeñas and Purisima are guilty of conduct prejudicial and gross neglect of duty."
Purisima also faces a graft charge over the allegedly anomalous gun license deliver service with Werfast company in 2011.