THE Sandiganbayan on Friday rescheduled the arraignment of former President Benigno Aquino III for graft and usurpation of authority to Feb. 15, even as his lawyer moved to have the case, related to his actions at the time of the Mamasapano massacre, dismissed.
Aquino failed to appear before Sandiganbayan Third Division during the scheduled arraignment Friday, and instead, his lawyer, Romeo Fernandez, moved to have the case dismissed.
Fernandez said he advised Aquino not to appear before the anti-graft division and he claimed the court did not give them enough time to file a motion to quash the information.
The Aquino camp argues that the cases leveled against the former president do not constitute the supposed offenses.
Aquino’s co-accused, former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima, meanwhile, appeared during the pre-trial of his case.
The Mamasapano cases involving Aquino and Purisima had been consolidated and transferred to the anti-graft court’s Fourth Division chaired by Associate Justice Alex Quiroz, from the court’s Third Division led by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang.
Tang was an Aquino.appointee, while Quiroz was an appointee of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
The Ombudsman charged Aquino for violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the usurpation of official functions of authority.
Aquino has posted bail of P40,000.
The Ombudsman dropped a more serious charge, reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicides, filed by the relatives of 44 police commandos who died in the covert Mamasapano operation.
The 44 Special Action Force commandos were killed in the day-long gun battles that followed the operation that killed Malaysian bomb maker Sulkifli binhir, alias Marwan.
The Ombudsman said Aquino should be held criminally liable for allowing Purisima, who was then suspended, to direct the operation.