MANILA - Malacañang has distanced itself Wednesday from the lifting of the temporary restraining order on the Mamasapano trial against former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
The Supreme Court confirmed Wednesday that it lifted the TRO on the trial, paving the way for possible action on the withdrawal of the graft and usurpation of authority charges filed at the Sandiganbayan against Aquino.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Palace would let the law take its course, noting the independence of the judiciary from the executive branch.
“The President and this Administration will always give deference to and uphold the rule of law regardless of the political and social stature of those involved in cases pending before the Judiciary,” Panelo, also the chief presidential legal counsel, said in a statement.
“We believe that the Office of the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan can tackle this matter with independence pursuant to their respective mandates,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s predecessor is facing graft and usurpation charges in connection with the botched 2015 police operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao that ended in the deaths of more than 60 people, including 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF).
Charged with Aquino are former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima and former PNP-SAF director Getulio Napeñas, Jr.
The charges were filed with the Sandiganbayan in November 2017 during the time of former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.
It can be recalled that the high court issued a TRO in February last year, just before Aquino, Purisima, and Napeñas were set to be arraigned.
Incumbent Ombudsman Samuel Martires, however, moved to withdraw the graft and usurpation charges against Aquino in June this year, arguing that there is no sufficient ground and evidence.
Aquino has insisted that the botched anti-terror mission was not his fault, pinning the blame instead on Napeñas who allegedly disobeyed orders to coordinate with the Army.