MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has formally dropped the graft and usurpation charges against former president Benigno Aquino III over the Mamasapano bloodbath in 2015.
The Sandiganbayan 4th Division dropped the charges upon the request of Ombudsman Samuel Martires, who said that no president can be charged of inducing subordinates to follow orders.
Former ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales charged Aquno with graft and usurpation for allowing the participation of sacked police chief Alan Purisima in the operation even though Purisima was already suspended at the time. The botched operation, aimed against a top terrorist, led to the killing of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) policemen. (READ: Mamasapano clash: What did Aquino know?)
"The criminal cases filed against Benigno Simeon Aquino III are dismissed without prejudice to the filing of the appropriate charges against him," said the 4th Division in a decision on Thursday, August 22.
The dropping of graft charges is a welcome development for the private complainants, the kin of the SAF 44, because they want to charge Aquino with 44 counts of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide.
The SAF 44 kin, represented by administration ally Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), has asked the Supreme Court to change the charges.
That appeal is backed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, and is yet to be resolved by the High Court.
VACC lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said they would wait for the SC's decision on their main petition. If they do not get a favorable ruling, Topacio said they would refile a homicide complaint with the Ombudsman.
Martires had said the Office of the Ombudsman would "entertain" a refiled complaint. – Rappler.com