No president can be charged with usurpation – Ombudsman  

Published July 5, 2019, 5:28 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

Ombudsman Samuel Martires stressed that the criminal charges filed by his predecessor against former President Benigno “NoyNoy” Aquino III involving the botched Mamasapano incident were doomed to fail, so he made a manifestation to withdraw it.

“No President of the Republic of the Philippines must be accused of usurpation of power while in office. Anyone who claims otherwise should go back to college, I am sorry to say that,” he said during Friday afternoon’s hearing with the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division.

Newly-appointed Ombudsman, Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Martires talks to the Supreme Court employees after attending his last flag raising in Manila, July 30,2018. (Czar Dancel / MANILA BULLETIN)
Ombudsman Samuel Martires (CZAR DANCEL / MANILA BULLETIN)

Martires added that there was no one else in this government who had a bigger “personal grudge” against Aquino than him, but he wanted to be “objective” in his work.

“My feelings towards the former President have nothing to do with my head,” he said. “We do not find any case for violation of usurpation against Aquino.”

The motion to withdraw filed by Martires’ office is currently pending before the Sandiganbayan. They are waiting for the Supreme Court (SC) to first lift its temporary restraining order (TRO) on the case before making a ruling.

No pending investigation

Meanwhile, Martires revealed that his office was currently not conducting any investigation against Aquino with regards any homicide case leveled against the former president. After the hearing, Martires told reporters that there was no motu propio investigation because his office was busy enough as it is.

But if someone decides to file another complaint against Aquino for homicide, Martires said his office would act on it.

The motion to withdraw was filed on June 24. “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.”

Aquino, who is facing the charges alongside 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 SAF troopers in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

It was Aquino who gave the order to 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.
Ferdinand Topacio, the legal counsel for the SAF 44, was “kind of pleasantly surprised” by the development because he has always thought the charges against Aquino were “shady.”

“It was a stupid case that should not have been filed in the first place,” he said of the charges made by former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, who he considers as a “political stooge.”

“It was filed to fail,” he added.

Topacio added that they are going to await the SC’s decision before making another complaint for homicide – this time with additional evidence. “Nothing can prevent us from refiling,” he said.