Gordon mulls Senate probe on Napeñas, Purisima acquittal in Mamasapano massacre case

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 22 2020 03:44 PM | Updated as of Jan 22 2020 04:30 PM

MANILA - Sen. Richard Gordon is looking to investigate the Sandiganbayan's acquittal of 2 former police officials in cases stemming from the 2015 Mamasapano massacre, where 44 state troopers were killed. 

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Gordon, who heads the Senate justice committee, said he was disappointed at the Sandiganbayan ruling clearing former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and former Special Action Forces (SAF) head Getulio Napeñas, citing lack of probable cause. 

The two had faced charges of graft and usurpation of official functions for the botched anti-terror operation to neutralize Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and his Filipino cohort Basit Usman, who were both killed in the operation. 

“I am severely disappointed. I am totally devastated by it. Mamasapano is one of the greatest injustices of our time,” said Gordon, who earlier urged the Senate to reopen investigations in the Mamasapano case.

“To my mind, mukhang nagkulang ang prosecution na naman diyan... Bakit madi-dismiss e ang dami-daming namatay tapos walang responsible? Dereliction of duty yan,” he said.

(To my mind, it looks like the prosecution's efforts were lacking. Why would it be dismissed when many were killed, then no one is responsible? That's dereliction of duty.)

The chamber's justice panel will “eventually” schedule the probe after gathering enough information and coordinating with Sen. Grace Poe, who headed the Senate inquiry into the Mamasapano massacre on Jan. 25, 2015, Gordon said.

“Isa sa itatanong ko, ‘Ano ba ang problema ninyo? Bakit kayo nagpapatalo?’ Pag natalo dapat may post mortem,” said Gordon, a lawyer. 

(One of my questions would be 'What's your problem? Why do you let yourselves lose cases? If you lose a case there should be a post mortem.)

The anti-graft court released its ruling acquitting the two on Tuesday, nearly five years since the incident. 

In the resolution, the court emphasized that it was not concluding that Purisima and Napeñas were without liability in the conduct of the operation which led to the deaths. 

“What the court merely rules upon is the non-existence of probable cause as against accused Napeñas for both charges and the insufficiency of the allegations in the informations filed against accused Purisima,” the court said.

With the dismissal of the cases of Purisima and Napeñas, their bail bonds were also ordered released by the court and the hold departure orders against them lifted.

Last year, the Office of the Ombudsman under Samuel Martires withdrew the graft and usurpation of official functions cases against former president Benigno Aquino III. 

He was initially indicted for "criminal negligence" during the time of former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, who said the former commander-in-chief had participated in the "flawed" planning of the police operation. 

A total of 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force were killed following clashes with Moro rebels and private armed groups in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. 

The firefights ensued after the operation against the two terror suspects. 

Investigation showed Purisima, at the time suspended over an administrative case, and Napeñas, had failed to coordinate the operation with the military.