Sandiganbayan junks graft, usurpation raps vs Purisima, Napeñas
MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan on Tuesday dismissed for lack of probable cause the charges of usurpation of authority and graft against former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and former Special Action Force (SAF) head Getulio Napeñas.
In a resolution, Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division said the Informations charging Purisima and Napeñas, along with former president Benigno Aquino III, for their role in the botched Oplan Exodus was insufficient to merit a conviction.
Under Oplan Exodus, Napeñas led SAF troopers in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in an attempt to capture Malaysian terrorists and bomb-maker Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan. The plan was conceived by Purisima, who was under direct orders from Aquino despite his suspension.
SAF officers managed to kill Marwan, but at the expense of 44 troopers who died under heavy fire from combined Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter rebels.
Aquino has been acquitted in the case after the Office of the Ombudsman withdrew the charges last August 2019, with Ombudsman Samuel Martires claiming that no president should be charged with usurpation over the functions of his subordinates — in this case, Purisima and Napeñas.
“The Information in the latter case should be read in conjunction with the Information filed against Purisima and Napeñas. In the Information in SB-17-CRM-2145, the act of ‘usurpation’ was primarily attributed to then-President Aquino,” division chair and Associate Justice Alex Quiroz said in the resolution.
“As mentioned earlier, however, the case against Aquino had already been dismissed by the Court. Considering that it was then President Aquino who gave the subject orders to accused Purisima and considering further that the former could not have usurped the functions of the PNP Chief, it is but logical to conclude that the Information do not constitute the crime charged,” the court added.
Napeñas’ lawyer has previously questioned why the Ombudsman only exempted Aquino, while their cases were not dismissed despite merely following the ex-president’s orders.
Meanwhile, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption — the group responsible for the filing of the case against Aquino, sided with Martires in withdrawing the case.
According to lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, the case was merely a cover-up, as it was meant by former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to fail.
Morales was appointed by Aquino as Ombudsman in 2011.
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