By Jeffrey G. Damicog
Solicitor General Jose Calida has lauded the decision of the Supreme Court suspending the arraignment of former President Benigno S. Aquino III for lesser crimes over his alleged liability in the deaths of 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force during a botched operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in 2015.
“I commend the Supreme Court for granting the TRO and upholding the sacred duty of the State to prosecute crimes,” Calida said in his Twitter account. “This is the first step to hold those responsible for the senseless killing of the SAF 44,” Calida added.
The SC has issued a TRO stopping the Sandiganbayan from arraigning Aquino and his co-accused – former PNP chief Director General Alan L.M. Purisima and former PNP-SAF chief Director Getulio P. Napenas – for graft and usurpation of authority in connection with the Mamasapano massacre.
They were supposed to be arraigned over the charges on Feb. 15.
The high tribunal granted the plea of Calida to issue a Temporary Restraining Order considering a review has been sought over the case and charges of 44 counts of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide be filed instead against Aquino, Purisima, and Napenas.
In its resolution halting the arraignment, the SC enjoined the Ombudsman from implementing its resolutions “insofar as it dismissed the complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide against respondents Benigno Simeon C. Aguino III, Alan Purisima, and Getulio Napeñas and from further proceeding in the subject cases.”
Last month, Calida filed a manifestation asking the SC to compel the Ombudsman to file 44 counts of homicide against Aquino, Purisima, and Napeñas in connection with the encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao where the 44 policemen were killed in a clash with rebels.
In his manifestation, Calida also asked the SC to nullify the Ombudsman’s ruling which dismissed the charges of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide filed against them.
“The act of public respondent Ombudsman in the case of dismissing the case for reckless imprudence, however, is a wanton disregard of the sufficiency of evidence to form a belief that a crime for Reckless Imprudence has been committed,” said Calida.
The Solicitor General filed the manifestation in support of the petition filed with the High Tribunal by the relatives of two policemen killed in the encounter.