MANILA - A day before the country marks the second year of the bloody encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, the Ombudsman on Tuesday filed criminal cases against former national police chief Alan Purisima and former Special Action Force director Getulio Napeñas.
Napenas and Purisima have been charged with graft and usurpation of official functions before the Sandiganbayan for the botched operation last January 25, 2015 which led to the death of over 60 people, including 44 SAF commandos.
Purisima was accused of usurpation after performing functions of a PNP Chief in the mission planning and supervision over execution of Oplan Exodus while suspended over another pending case on the WERFAST courier service anomaly.
Napeñas, meanwhile, was also charged for following orders from the then suspended PNP chief, bypassing then OIC-PNP Chief Deputy Director Leonardo Espina.
Napeñas allegedly conspired with Purisima after constantly answering and providing operational updates to the suspended police chief.
The Ombudsman also noted their actions of approving the final date of operation and time on target coordination of the operation.
For the graft case, Purisima allegedly persuaded, induced or influenced Napeñas to violate the PNP chain of command, as well as the Ombudsman preventive suspension and Espina's cease and desist orders against Purisima.
"[Purisima violated these] by giving instructions to, receiving reports and recommendations from and approving the actions of accused Napeñas relative to the preparation and conduct of Oplan Exodus...and by easing out OIC PNP Chief Espina and Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas from the said Oplan Exodus," the graft charge sheet read.
The prosecution also noted that both accused were fully aware about the Ombudsman's December 10, 2014 preventive suspension order and Espina's special order. Such violations were also committed although Napenas and Purisima knew that "Espina was the one who had the authority to oversee the preparation for and conduct of Oplan Exodus, to the damage and prejudice of the State."
Prior to this, 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.
'SLAP ON THE WRIST' CASES
While some relatives of slain SAF44 troopers welcome the development on the case, they remain unsatisfied.
Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said graft and usurpation charges were too mild for such a serious offense which caused dozens of death. Topacio represents nine SAF44 relatives who filed complaints against former President Benigno Aquino III, Napenas and Purisima before the Ombudsman last July and August.
Topacio said Aquino's lapses should not be overlooked.
"Hindi sapat dahil hindi kasama si Pangulong Aquino at napakaraming namatay dito. Ang ikakaso lang ay usurpation at graft? Para namang slap on the wrist lamang yun. That is an insufficient punishment considering the death toll," said Topacio.
(It is not enough because President Aquino was not included and so many people died here. And they would just file usurpation and graft charges? That's like a mere slap on the wrist. That is not enough considering the death toll.)
Helen Eva Ramacula, mother of PO2 Rodel Ramacula, wept at the seemingly slow investigation of the Ombudsman in their complaint.
Ramacula said she hopes that President Rodrigo Duterte will keep his promise to help SAF44 families during their first meeting in Camp Aguinaldo when he was still Davao City mayor.
"Sabi niya sa amin, once manalo siya, tutulungan niya ang SAF," said Ramacula. "Kasi ang tagal nang panahon, wala pang nangyayari."
Duterte on Tuesday said he will create a commission to probe who should be held accountable for the massacre.