MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Former president Benigno Aquino III was charged for the first time at the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on Wednesday, November 8, over the botched Mamasapano operations.
He was charged for one count each of graft and usurpation of official functions for allowing dismissed police chief Alan Purisima to participate in Oplan Exodus despite his suspension at the time.
The Office of the Ombudsman recommended bail for Aquino at P40,000 or P30,000 for graft and P10,000 for usurpation of official functions.
In September, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales denied Aquino's appeal to drop the charges. Morales also denied the appeal of complainants – families of some of the 44 Special Action Force members (SAF 44) killed in the operation – to charge Aquino with 44 counts of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide.
The SAF 44 kin is represented by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption or VACC, which is also seeking Morales' impeachment.
The VACC said charges of graft and usurpation against Aquino are designed to fail.
On Wednesday, VACC hit Morales for proceeding to file the charges before the Sandiganbayan despite a pending petition before the Supreme Court (SC). The week before, VACC filed a petition for certiorari with prayer for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in an attempt to stop the charges,
The VACC wants the SC to rule that Aquino should instead be charged with homicide.
"VACC and the kin of SAF 44 believe that the rushed filing by Ombudsman Morales is to preempt the certiorari filed by the VACC at the SC and possible dismissal of the said information filed against Aquino, Purisima, and Napeñas," they said in a statament.
The same charges were filed earlier against Purisima and former Special Action Force chief Getulio Napeñas Jr.
In her September resolution, Morales stressed that Aquino’s liability stems from the fact that the former president “assented to, or at the very least failed to prevent” Purisima's participation, committing the crime of graft and usurpation. – Rappler.com