Supreme Court lifts TRO on Mamasapano trial vs Aquino

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court has lifted the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) imposed on the Mamasapano trial against former president Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino pending before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.

"Upon verification with the Chief Justice, I would like to confirm that the Supreme Court has lifted the TRO on the Mamasapano trial before the Sandiganbayan," Court spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka told reporters on Wednesday, August 7.

But the lifting of the TRO just means the Sandiganbayan can now proceed with the request of Ombudsman Samuel Martires to drop graft and usurpation charges against Aquino.

Martires filed a motion with the Sandiganbayan 4th Division to drop the charges because for him, "no president of the Philippines can be accused of usurpation."

Martires' motion only covers Aquino. During a hearing on July 5 at the Sandiganbayan, the lawyer of former SAF chief Getulio Napeñas wanted to submit a manifestation covering why the motion did not extend to his client.

Napeñas and sacked police chief Alan Purisima are charged alongside Aquino.

Sandiganbayan 4th Division chairman Associate Justice Alex Quiroz said they would defer acting on Martires' motion, and other manifestations that may be filed, until the SC lifts its TRO.

Supreme Court petition

The TRO was issued by the Supreme Court (SC) when it acted on the petition of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) – backed by Solicitor General Jose Calida – to charge Aquino of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide instead of graft and usurpation.

The SC is yet to resolve the meat of that petition.

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.

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, ended up killing 44 elite policemen. (READ: Mamasapano clash: What did Aquino know?) – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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