MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE 6:48 P.M) The Office of the Ombudsman has filed graft and usurpation of authority charges against former President Benigno Aquino III before the Sandiganbayan over the January 2015 Mamasapano incident.
However, the charges of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide filed by relatives of the 44 police Special Action Force commandos who died in the firefights that followed the covert operation that killed Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” in Mamasapano, Maguindanao were dropped for lack of evidence.
At least 17 Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters and a number of civilians also died in the clashes.
The charges against the former president follow those filed against his co-accused, former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima and former SAF diector Getulio Napeñas.
Usurpation of authority is a criminal offense under the Revised Penal Code.
Both cases stem from Aquino’s allegedly allowing Purisima to oversee Oplan Exodus even if he was under suspension at the time because of corruption charges pver an irregular contract for the delivery of firearms licenses.
Purisima was eventually dismissed from the service by the Office of the Ombudsman.
The LIberal Party, of which Aquino is a ranking member, said in a statement “It is unthinkable for then President Benigno Aquino III to make a decision that would endanger the lives of our policemen and soldiers, or parade them helpless in the firing line. No President, or any father of the nation, would do that.”
The LP statement added: “We maintain that President Aquino, after thorough consultation with officials, only did what he deemed best and right under the situation.
“He did not commit any criminal act or violated any laws or the Constitution.”
His party expressed confidence Aquino could eventually “clear his name in court and prove he is innocent of the charges. We believe the court will afford him due process and fair trial.”
READ THE CHARGES FILED AGAINST AQUINO BEFORE THE SANDIGANBAYAN: