Hearing on withdrawal of Mamasapano charges against ex-President Aquino set

Published July 3, 2019, 9:40 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

The hearing on the proposed withdrawal of the graft and usurpation charges against former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III over the botched Mamasapano operations has been set for July 12, 2019 by the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division.

Former President Noynoy Aquino answers the questions of the media during a press conference after the Senate Blue Ribbon committee’s probe on the government’s P3.5-billion purchase of Dengvaxia vaccines. (ALI VICOY / MANILA BULLETIN)
Former President Noynoy Aquino (ALI VICOY / MANILA BULLETIN)

Ombudsman Samuel Martires filed on June 24 the motion seeking to withdraw the charges against Aquino that was filed before the anti-graft court by his predecessor, Conchita Carpio Morales.

“After a review… the undersigned finds no sufficient ground and evidence to charge accused Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III for violation of Section 3(a) of Republic Act No. 3019 and for usurpation of official functions under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code, being then the President of the Republic of the Philippines during the time material to the cases,” the motion stated.

Martires, who signed the motion himself, said in his prayer that he hopes the charges against Aquino be considered dismissed “without prejudice to the filing of appropriate charges against accused after the conduct of preliminary investigation.”

This is the latest development in the case against Aquino, which had been put on hold after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO). Before the TRO, Aquino filed a motion to quash and argued that the facts charged against him do not constitute an offense.

Aquino, who is facing the charges along with former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and former PNP- Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) director Getulio Napeñas Jr., was indicted due to his involvement in the botched Oplan Exodus which led to the deaths of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

It was Aquino ordered Purisima, despite being suspended at the time, to lead the 44 SAF troopers in the arrest of wanted terrorist, Zulkifli Bin Hir alias “Marwan” and Ahmad Akmad Uson in Mamasapano.

Even though the operation led to the death of Marwan, over 60 people lost their lives. The ill-fated SAF 44, on the other hand, met cruel deaths at the hands of their captors.

Aquino and Napeñas have not yet been arraigned. Only Purisima has pleaded not guilty because of his travel motion.