MANILA- The Liberal Party on Friday stood by former President Benigno Aquino III over his decisions in the 2015 anti-terror raid in Maguindanao province, which led to the death of 44 elite police officers.
In a statement, the LP cited Aquino's "life-long commitment to the peace process in Mindanao," saying his actions relating to the incident were "imperatives in good faith to advance the cause of justice and peace" in the restive south.
"The Liberal Party expresses its faith in the ability of Former President Benigno Aquino III to defend his actions before, during and after the tragic Mamasapano event," the party said in a statement released by its president, Sen. Francis Pangilinan.
In a separate statement, Aquino's cousin, Sen. Bam Aquino, also expressed confidence that the former President "will sufficiently answer the charges laid before him and be vindicated."
"During the concluded Senate investigations, the former President was candid and transparent with his role and involvement in the Mamasapano tragedy," said the lawmaker, also of the LP.
"We hope that this case will be an opportunity for the courts to reveal the truth and, once and for all, settle this incident in accordance with the rule of law," he added.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on Friday ordered Aquino charged with usurpation of authority and violation of the anti-graft and corrupt practices act, citing his alleged "criminal negligence" as among those who planned the botched raid.
Also included in the charges were Aquino's former national police chief, retired Director General Alan Purisima, and former Special Action Force chief Getulio Napeñas.
Aquino will appeal the indictment, his former deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte said.
"An initial reading shows that there may have been a misappreciation of some facts surrounding the incident, leading to some erroneous conclusions. He will seek to clarify the same through the motion for reconsideration," Valte said in a text message.
The LP also expressed trust that the Ombudsman will "oversee this necessary process of truth-seeking with fairness and credibility."
It was Aquino who appointed Morales, a former Supreme Court magistrate, to the anti-graft post in 2011.
Morales swore in Aquino in 2010, when the latter shunned tradition and opted to officially assume his post before an Associate Justice, refusing to take his oath before then Chief Justice Renato Corona. Aquino had opposed his late appointment by former President Gloria Arroyo shortly before the end of her term.