Aquino cleared by Ombudsman probers in Mamasapano case
THE investigators of the Office of the Ombudsman found no criminal offense on the part of President Benigno Aquino III over the botched Mamasapano operation.
This after the Special Panel of Investigators in its fact-finding did not find evidence that would point to the President’s accountability over the botched anti-terror raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25.
In a press conference Wednesday, Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan said Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales approved the investigating panel’s recommendation to hold preliminary investigation and administrative adjudication against dismissed Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima, sacked Special Action Force (SAF) Police Director Getulio Napeñas and nine other police officers.
Rafanan said the panel found that Aquino had no criminal liability despite authorizing Purisima to oversee the anti-terror operations despite the latter’s suspension then due to graft charges.
Rafanan also said the complainants – Fernando Perito, Pedrito Nepomuceno and Augusto Syjuco Jr. – did not implead the President in the Mamasapano incident.
“Nonetheless, the office motu proprio looked into the participation of the President and the special panel found that whatever participation the President may have had in the Mamasapano incident, does not amount prima facie to a criminal offense, neither was his participation analogous to any of the impeachable offenses,” Rafanan said.
Rafanan said the President committed no criminal offense because he had ordered the police officials to make the necessary coordination for the success of the Mamasapano operation.
“The participation of the President did not amount to a criminal offense as he in fact ordered that they should coordinate the implementation of the operations,” Rafanan said.
The President was severely criticized for washing his hands over his alleged role in the operations and heaping the blame on Napeñas for disobeying his orders to coordinate with the military for reinforcement at the time of the operation.
The President was also slammed for authorizing Purisima to monitor the operations despite being suspended by the Ombudsman for graft over an anomalous gun license courier contract.
Napeñas, Purisima and nine others face a preliminary investigation before the Ombudsman for graft, neglect of duty and grave misconduct over the Mamasapano incident. Purisima, meanwhile, faced an investigation for usurpation of powers for having a hand in the operation despite his suspension.
Napeñas was sacked for leading the failed operation to hunt down international terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir and his deputy Basit Usman in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. The operation became a disaster due to lack of coordination that resulted in the delay in deployment of reinforcements. The gunfight that ensued between the SAF commandos and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members left 44 troopers, 18 MILF fighters and five civilians dead.
Purisima was also dismissed from service and his retirement benefits were ordered forfeited for his administrative liability over the allegedly anomalous gun licensing delivery contract with Wer Fast Documentary Agency, Inc. (WERFAST).
The police Board of Inquiry said President Aquino bypassed the police chain of command when he authorized Napeñas and Purisima in the operation while keeping then acting police chief Leonardo Espina in the dark. He also bypassed the chain of command by authorizing Purisima to oversee the operation despite his suspension.
Napeñas has said he did not inform Espina about the operation on the advice of Purisima.
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