MANILA, Philippines – Solicitor General Jose Calida filed with the Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday, January 25, a manifestation asking for former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to be charged with homicide instead of graft over the bloody Mamasapano operations of 2015.
Calida personally filed the manifestation on Thursday, the 3rd anniversary of the operations that killed 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos. He was accompanied by Dante Jimenez, Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) chairman and now head of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission.
Calida is representing the SAF kin as petitioners, in his capacity as "tribune of the people."
“In view of Aquino’s full knowledge of the details of Oplan Exodus and his subsequent approval thereof, he acted with inexcusable negligence which was the direct proximate cause in the massacre of the SAF 44,” the manifestation read.
Calida joins the VACC and the SAF kin’s dissent that the charges against Aquino approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales were a downgrade, compared to 44 counts of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide.
Pending a motion to quash, the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan is set to arraign Aquino on February 15 for one count each of graft and usurpation of authority.
Calida’s manifestation asks that the arraignment before the Sandiganbayan be suspended, and that the SC directs the Ombudsman to instead charge the former president of 44 counts of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, one count for each SAF commando who died.
Graft carries a maximum prison time of 15 years, while reckless imprudence resulting in homicide carries 4 years. Forty-four counts would result to 176 years of imprisonment if Aquino is found guilty for each count.
Aquino was charged with graft and usurpation of authority because of an alleged conspiracy to allow then police chief Alan Purisima, who was suspended at the time, to play a role in the operations.
In dismissing the homicide charges, Morales said the element of a proximate cause against Aquino was missing.
In the death of the 44 SAF commandos, Morales said the proximate cause was the "intentional act of shooting by hostile forces that included members of the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) and PAGs (Private Armed Groups)."
“The Chief Executive is ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the mission,” said Calida, which supposedly makes Aquino liable for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide.