Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II yesterday wondered why former President Benigno S. Aquino III was absolved by the Office of the Ombudsman of liability in the Mamasapano clash that killed 44 members of the police Special Action Force (SAF) in 2015.
“The Board of Inquiry (BOI) as well the Senate inquiry have found his (Aquino’s) liability. That’s why I really wonder why he was not charged (by the Ombudsman) now that he does not have immunity (from criminal suits) anymore,” Aguirre said in an interview.
“Why was the official who gave the order absolved when those who just followed it are the ones charged in court now?”
The issue was raised by Aguirre as the government is set to conduct a re-investigation of the so-called Oplan Exodus that resulted in the killing of 44 police commandos by the elements of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and private armed groups (PAGs).
Aguirre said the Senate inquiry led by Sen. Grace Poe found that former President Aquino was “ultimately responsible” for the Mamasapano mission that targetted Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.
In March 2015, the Senate report did not recommend the filing of charges against Aquino because of his immunity from suit as the sitting President, he said.
Despite the end of his term as President and after he has lost his immunity, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has not filed a case against Aquino, he stressed.
Last week, Morales filed cases against former Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Alan Purisima and former SAF Chief Director Getulio Napeñas for graft and usurpation of public functions.
Aguirre said the liability of Aquino in the Mamasapano clash had been established in previous investigations.
He cited the text messages between Aquino and Purisima the night before the actual operation.
“He (Aquino) was giving orders and being given updates on Marwan. This means he was on top of the situation. He knew what was happening,” Aguirre stressed.
the justice secretary pointed out that Aquino, himself, admitted that he was informed about Marwan’s death.
He said it was impossible for Aquino to be kept out of the loop by the authorities in the Mamasapano operation.
(REY G. PANALIGAN)