MANILA - The Sandiganbayan justice who will lead the division assigned to the case against President Benigno Aquino III for his role in the 2015 botched Mamasapano raid on Friday vowed to remain objective in handling the case.
Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice and 3rd Division Chair Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, who Aquino appointed to the anti-graft court in 2013, made the assurance that the court would be fair and just in handling the graft and usurpation of official functions case filed against the former President.
“We will just apply the rules as we have done in the past, irrespective of the personality involved,” Cabotaje-Tang said.
“Lahat dito naging appointee ng different Presidents, meron kami, more than just our gratefulness to those who appointed us, we have a sworn duty and we should, that should be the foremost consideration, to render justice as justice should be dispensed without fear or favor,” Cabotaje-Tang said.
Aside from Cabotaje-Tang, Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez, an appointee of President Rodrigo Duterte, is a division member, while another Aquino appointee, Associate Justice Sarah Jane Fernandez, sits as a special division member.
Aquino is reportedly getting ready to post bail even while the court has yet to issue an arrest warrant.
Cabotaje-Tang said the division will see if the case against Aquino may be consolidated with the on-going cases against former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and former PNP Special Action Force Director Getulio Napeñas pending before the court's 4th Division.
“We will study whether there is a need to consolidate in light of the fact that there were previous cases already filed against Gen. Napeñas and Gen. Purisima and that these cases filed against the former President actually arose from the same facts and circumstances,” Cabotaje-Tang said.
Aquino, Purisima and Napeñas are all accused in connection with the botched anti-terror raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, where 44 elite police commandos were killed.