MANILA (UPDATED) - The Sandiganbayan on Thursday cancelled the arraignment of former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III over graft and usurpation of authority charges filed against him for his alleged role in the 2015 bloody Mamasapano anti-terror raid.
The Sandiganbayan 4th Division cited the Supreme Court's order last week to halt proceedings based on the request of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).
“This Court thus holds in abeyance the arraignment and pre-trial it tentatively set on February 15, 2018 with respect to Aquino III, Purisima, and Napeñas,” the court said in the minutes of its meeting on Monday.
The OSG had sought the suspension of the proceedings as it urged the High Court to order the filing of charges for the graver crime of multiple homicide against Aquino and 2 former police officials over the Mamasapano operation, where 44 elite policemen were killed.
Aquino's co-respondents were former Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima and former Special Action Force (SAF) chief Getulio Napeñas.
The Supreme Court had issued the temporary restraining order against the proceedings after the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and relatives of the 44 slain policemen filed a petition for certiorari and preliminary injunction.
The petitioners have assailed Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales for dropping the charge of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide against Aquino and his co-respondents when her office filed the case with the Sandiganbayan.
Report from Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News