Noynoy Aquino indicted for graft over Mamasapano
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Friday, July 14, ordered graft charges filed against former president Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III for his role in the botched Mamasapano operation in January 2015.
Morales on Friday issued the 35-page resolution on the complaint against Aquino, where she also ordered the filing of usurpation of authority charges against the former chief executive.
Morales dismissed charges of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide against Aquino, former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima, and former Special Action Force (SAF) chief Getulio Napeñas Jr.
The case involves the Aquino administration's Oplan Exodus, which sought to neutralize terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir or Marwan and Abdul Basit Usman. While Marwan was killed during the operation, and months later Usman, missteps in the operation led to the death of 44 elite cops and 23 civilians. (READ: President Aquino and the ghosts of Mamasapano)
Charges vs Aquino
The Ombudsman said it ordered Aquino's indictment because he allowed the participation of Purisima in the police operation even though he was suspended at the time. (READ: Mamasapano clash: What did Aquino know?)
The Ombudsman suspended Purisima in December 2014 because of graft charges over the anomalous Werfast courier deal, the cause of his eventual dismissal.
Aquino is indicted for graft for allegedly violating Section 3(a) of the Graft Law which states that it "shall be unlawful for any public officer to persuade, induce or influence another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with the official duties of the latter."
“In other words, Purisima would not have been placed in such a position of continuing to conduct himself, in relation to Oplan Exodus, in a manner as if he was not under preventive suspension at that time, from his position as PNP chief, were it not for the complicity and influence of President Aquino," Morales said in her resolution.
Aquino is indicted for usurpation of authority because he "failed to prevent" Purisima from committing the offense.
Usurpation of authority under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code is one's false representation as an officer, agent or representative of any department or agency of the Philippine Government, or who, under pretense of official position, shall perform any act pertaining to any person in authority or public officer of the Philippine Government, or any agency thereof, without being lawfully entitled to do so.
"All the foregoing circumstances establish probable cause against President Aquino for violation of Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code, in conspiracy with Purisima and Napeñas," the Ombudsman said.
Purisima and Napeñas were charged before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan in January for one count each of usurpation of public function and graft. (READ: Aquino pins down Napeñas in Mamasapano affidavit)
So even though the new consolidated resolution details how Purisima and Napeñas committed graft and usurpation, they will no longer be charged again because the complaints are the same.
Instead, the information which will be filed is "against President Aquino, in conspiracy with Purisima and Napeñas."
This consolidated resolution resolves 3 complaints filed by kin of the SAF 44 and the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).
Aquino can still appeal this indictment, his first since stepping down from presidency.
If found guilty, Aquino, Purisima, and Napeñas face jail time of 6 to15 years for graft, and 6 months to 4 years for usurpation of authority.
The indictment is a turnaround from the findings of a special panel created by Morales in July 2015 which cleared Aquino of all liabilities over Mamasapano.
Morales also earlier cleared Aquino of graft, malversation, and usurpation of legislative functions over the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) but this is currently on appeal before the Office of the Ombudsman. Morales has yet to resolve the motion for reconsideration filed by complainant Bayan Muna.
Dismissal of homicide charges
Morales said the homicide charges are dismissed because the offenses committed by the 3 were not the "proximate cause" of the deaths of SAF troopers and civilians.
To charge someone of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide, it must be proven that the negligence of the accused was the "proximate cause" of the deaths.
For Morales, the proximate cause was the "intentional act of shooting by hostile forces that included members of the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) and PAGs (Private Armed Groups)."
First, Morales said Aquino cannot be charged of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide because the lapses in the operations are the doing of only Purisima and Napeñas.
"Perforce, only these two officials should bear the commensurate responsibility of the said mission," Morales said.
Still for Morales, Purisima and Napeñas cannot be charged because their negligence "was still short of criminal negligence precisely because it was not the proximate legal cause."
Read Morales' resolution here: