Sandiganbayan’s presiding justice contradicts Purisima and Napeñas’ acquittal
MANILA, Philippines – Former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima and former Special Action Force (SAF) head Getulio Napeñas may have been acquitted from liability in the Mamasapano clash, but Sandiganbayan’s presiding justice insists that they should face trial.
According to Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang’s dissenting opinion, she agrees that both Purisima and Napeñas should not be tried for graft as the Information filed “do not constitute” a violation of Section 3 of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
However, on the usurpation charges, Tang wants the two to be arrested, and their motions to be dismissed.
“To reiterate, the crime of usurpation of official functions is committed ‘by performing any act pertaining to any person in authority or public officer of the Philippine Government or of a foreign government or any agency thereof, under the pretense of official position, and without being lawfully entitled to do so,” Tang stressed.
“Plainly, the constitutive elements of the crime of usurpation of official functions are sufficiently alleged in the said Information,” she added.
Purisima and Napeñas were charged along with former president Benigno Aquino III, after Napeñas led a SAF operation to capture Malaysian terrorist and bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.
Marwan was killed during the operation, but 44 SAF troopers were killed by combined forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
It was later on revealed that the plan was conceived by Purisima — who was in direct contact with Aquino despite the fact that the sacked Philippine National Police chief was suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman.
Tang also pointed out that Purisima’s move to file a motion to quash means that he “hypothetically admitted the truth” of the allegations in the Information against them.
“Unquestionably, the allegations in the Information charging the herein accused with the usurpation of official functions under Article 117 of the RPC (Revised Penal Code) comply with the requirements of the Rules of Court, and existing jurisprudence on the matter; hence the same Information is not susceptible to a motion to quash,” Tang noted.
Prior to the Sandiganbayan’s dismissal of the cases against the two, the Ombudsman withdrew the usurpation and graft cases against Aquino last August 2019.
Ombudsman Samuel Martires reasoned out that the cases were withdrawn because no president can usurp the functions of his subordinates, as he or she has authority over his or her officers.
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