SENATOR Richard Gordon said Sunday he will push for a reopening of the Senate inquiry into the Mamasapano massacre, after the Office of the Ombudsman ordered the filing of criminal charges against former President Benigno Aquino III.
“Why is it when powerful people are involved, they hesitate to let the truth come out?” he said in Filipino.
Gordon hit the Office of the Ombudsman for recommending the filing of graft and usurpation of authority charges against Aquino, his former police chief Alan Purisima, and former Special Action Force director Getulio Napeñas, saying the charges were weak.
“I woud have filed graver charges, multiple homicide through reckless imprudence,” he said, in line with the complaint filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption before the Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman, however, cleared Aquino of the homicide charge.
Gordon said he may call Aquino to testify if the Senate reopens the Mamasapano hearing.
“Nobody will be exempted from this… He has to man up and face the consequences,” he added.
In a separate radio dzBB interview, Aquino’s ally in the Liberal Party, Senator Franklin Drilon, said there was no need to reopen the Mamasapano hearing.
The public order committee, then headed by Senator Grace Poe, had issued a report on the Mamasapano hearings, and found Aquino “ultimately responsible” for the carnage.
The Justice department on Sunday supported the Office of the Ombudsman holding Aquino criminally liable for the Mamasapano massacre in which 44 police commandos were killed.
“It’s a welcome development. The factual bases of the resolution are by and large accurate,” Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said, in a text message on Sunday.
Aguirre debunked the assertion of Aquino’s camp that the Ombudsman appeared to have misunderstood the facts in the case in approving his indictment before the Sandiganbayan.
The Justice secretary said the findings of the anti-graft body on criminal liabilities of Aquino and former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima vindicated his former client, former PNP-Special Action Force director Getulio Napeñas Jr.
“In fact, that was exactly his [Napeñas’] defense—that the liability was with higher officials and he was only following their orders,” he said.
Prior to his appointment as DoJ chief, Aguirre served as lawyer of Napeñas—reportedly his relative—during the Senate inquiry and in succeeding criminal charges against the former police general.
But Aguirre reserved his comment on the dissatisfaction of families of the so-called “SAF 44” because Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales dismissed their original complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide against Aquino and Purisima.
“I have to yet to fully read the Ombudsman’s resolution to give a well studied opinion on the matter,” he said.
The Ombudsman last week approved the indictment of the former president before the Sandiganbayan for usurpation of authority under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code and violation of Section 3 (a) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Aquino was found liable for allowing Purisima, who was suspended at the time as PNP chief due to a graft case, to play a “major role” in the raid.
Purisima and Napeñas were ordered indicted together with Aquino.
The deaths of the SAF commandos sparked public outrage and set back the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The trapped police commandos waited for reinforcements that never came.
Purisima and Napeñas are already facing separate cases of graft and usurpation of authority before the Sandiganbayan also in connection with the Mamasapano massacre.
The resolution, approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on July 1, resolved three separate complaints filed by the families of the slain SAF troopers in July and August last year, shortly after Aquino was stripped of immunity from suit following the end of his term.
The complainants, assisted by the Volunteer Against Crime and Corruption, originally charged Aquino, Purisima and Napeñas with reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide.
However, the Ombudsman, in its resolution, said it found “no probable cause” to sustain the filing of such case in court, pointing out that the acts or negligence of the three former officials were not the “proximate cause” of the death of the SAF 44.
The Ombudsman instead found Aquino liable for usurpation of authority for allowing Purisima to play a “major role” in Oplan Exodus, the SAF operation aimed at neutralizing Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Filipino bomb maker Abdul Basit Usman.