'Time for reckoning' has come for Aquino: Panelo

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 15 2017 02:16 PM | Updated as of Jul 15 2017 08:48 PM

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo and former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III. Composite

MANILA (UPDATED) - The "time for reckoning" has come for former president Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said this Saturday after the Office of the Ombudsman indicted Aquino for his role in the botched January 2015 anti-terror raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, which left 44 elite policemen dead.

"Sooner or later, the law will catch up on those who use power or wealth to shield themselves from the majesty of the law. There is a time for reckoning and the time has finally come for the former President," Panelo said in a statement.

"Dura Lex Sed Lex, no power nor wealth can escape from it, it can only delay its coming, but when it does, it operates ex propio vigore (with full force and effect)," he added.

Panelo added that Aquino remains innocent until proven guilty.

"He can marshal all the legal remedies available under the law and deserves to be within the mantle of the protection of due process and the rule of law, a constitutional principle he however deprived many of his political adversaries, like the late Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona and the former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo," the statement read.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales had on Friday ordered Aquino charged with usurpation of authority and violation of the anti-graft and corrupt practices act, citing "criminal negligence" in his involvement in planning the operation.

Also included in the charges were Aquino's former national police chief, retired Director General Alan Purisima, and the former chief of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force, retired Director Getulio Napeñas.

The Ombudsman meanwhile dismissed charges of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide for "lack of probable cause."

Aquino will appeal the indictment, his former deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte said.

Relatives of the slain police commandos are meanwhile set to seek reconsideration of the Ombudsman's dismissal of the homicide charges against the former President.

The SAF men died while on a mission to capture Malaysian terror suspect Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.

Marwan was killed in the assault, but an ensuing clash between police commandos and Muslim rebels resulted in a bloodbath.