Anti-crime group agrees with Ombudsman’s decision to drop graft raps vs Aquino
MANILA, Philippines – An anti-crime group has agreed with the Ombudsman’s decision to withdraw charges filed against former President Benigno Aquino III for the Mamasapano incident in 2015.
Ferdinand Topacio, legal counsel of Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), said on Friday that the graft and usurpation charges against Aquino were just a deliberate cover-up.
“Technically speaking, I will have to agree with the Ombudsman kasi ang contention nga po namin (because our contention is that) this stupid case should never have been filed in the first place,” Topacio said after attending the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division’s hearing.
“We have been saying this all along, this was filed to fail, pinagtatakpan lang talaga (it’s just a cover-up),” he added. “This is a shaky case, this was meant to cover the tracks of the former president by a political stooge.”
VACC sued Aquino for homicide in 2016 for allegedly causing the death of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) police commandos because he gave the green light for the controversial Oplan Exodus.
The SAF troopers were targeting Malaysian bomb maker Zufkili bin Hir alias Marwan and Filipino terrorist Basit Usman in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Marwan was killed while Usman was neutralized in a subsequent operation.
However, then Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales dismissed VACC’s complaints, filing graft and usurpation charges instead. The group had denounced Morales’ decision, saying she downgraded their complaints.
Topacio said they will refile the homicide complaint before the Ombudsman, but they would wait for the Supreme Court (SC) decision on their separate motion.
The SC issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the case based on the VACC’s claim that Aquino should face a more serious charge.
“As you know, we have a certiorari case before the Supreme Court saying that the former Ombudsman exercised grave abuse of discretion. So hintayin po natin ‘yon (let’s wait for that) out of deference to the highest court,” he noted.
Earlier, Ombudsman Samuel Martires said they would no longer file new homicide cases against the former president, but he clarified that the petitioners are welcome to file complaints. (Editor: Eden Estopace)
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