Ombudsman: Aquino not yet off the hook in Mamasapano case

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 25 2017 03:42 PM

Former President Benigno Aquino III. Joseph Vidal, Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA - Former President Benigno Aquino III is not yet off the hook over the Mamasapano carnage in January 2015, according to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.

Morales said, the investigation into the incident continues, even after her office filed charges against former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima and former PNP-Special Action Force head Getulio Napeñas Jr.

“It's already under preliminary investigation. I think the president asked, I'm referring to President Aquino, he asked for an extension of time to file a counter affidavit,” Morales said.

The Mamasapano massacre dealt a serious blow to the credibility and popularity of Aquino, as the operation which led to the deaths of 44 elite policemen was carried out allegedly under the orders of a suspended Purisima.

While some relatives of slain 44 slain SAF troopers welcome the development on the case with the filing of charges against Purisima and Napeñas, they remain unsatisfied.

Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said the graft and usurpation charges were too mild for such a serious offense which caused dozens of death.

Topacio represents relatives of 9 of the slain 44 cops who filed complaints against Aquino, Napeñas and Purisima before the ombudsman last July and August.

Relatives of slain SAF commandos and the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) filed reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide charges against the three.

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," he said. 

(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.)

As then chief executive of the country and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, the complainants said Aquino indirectly caused the death of the SAF commandos by approving Oplan Exodus, despite knowing that it was flawed, and for breaching the PNP’s chain of command.

The complainants added Aquino must also be held criminally liable after allowing then suspended Purisima to plan of Oplan: Exodus while keeping the operations from then PNP officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina, thereby breaking the chain of command.