MANILA – The Supreme Court on Friday issued a temporary restraining order, effectively halting proceedings at the Sandiganbayan special anti-graft court related to cases of graft and usurpation of authority against former president Benigno Aquino III, former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima, and ex-PNP Special Action Force Director Getulio Napeña.
The case came about in the aftermath of the Battle of Mamasapano.
The botched anti-terror operation on January 25, 2015, launched to arrest a Malaysian bomb maker who had sought sanctuary inside Muslim rebel territory in Maguindanao Province, left 44 SAF commandos dead, even as, on the other side, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front acknowledged 14 fatalities, while at least two civilians also lost their lives.
In November last year, the group Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and relatives of two of the fallen SAF officers, Felicitas Nacino and Helen Ramacula, asked the Supreme Court to direct the Sandiganbayan to hold in abeyance the trial of the respondents based on a usurpation of authority complaint filed by the Office of the Ombudsman.
They wanted the respondents to face the charge of homicide, instead.
The TRO, issued by the Supreme Court First Division headed by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, effectively stopped for the meantime the deferred arraignment of former president Aquino at the Sandiganbayan.