Ombudsman 'downgraded' charges vs Aquino – VACC

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 15) — Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales favored former president Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III as she downgraded the charges against him regarding the 2015 Mamasapano case, according to one of the complainants.

"The Ombudsman has really favored the former president obviously, because you know, the president appointed (her) in the office (she) is now occupying. We believe she has to be removed or impeached," Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) Founding Chairperson Dante Jimenez said.

Jimenez added the Ombudsman should inhibit herself from the case.

"We believe as long as the Ombudsman is there, we will never get justice for those victims of the Mamasapano massacre," Jimenez said.

In a resolution approved Friday, the Ombudsman ordered the filing of criminal charges against former president Aquino for usurpation of authority under the Revised Penal Code (RPC) and the violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act in connection with the botched Mamasapano encounter in January 2015.

According to the resolution, Aquino made a mistake in allowing then Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Alan Purisima to play a major role in the Mamasapano operation despite being under preventive suspension.

More than 60 people died in the 2015 encounter, including 44 Special Action Force members, known as the SAF 44.

READ: Ex-President Aquino faces criminal raps over Mamasapano encounter, cleared of homicide

"How come, how would Aquino usurp authority when he was the Commander-in-Chief and President of the Republic?" Jimenez told CNN Philippines Friday.

Among the complaints against the former president was reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide. It was dismissed by the Ombudsman due to lack of probable cause.

‘Misappreciation of facts’

Former Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said there may have been a "misappreciation" of facts.

"An initial reading shows that there may have been a misappreciation of some facts surrounding the incident, leading to some erroneous conclusions," she said in a statement.

 

Valte said Aquino has received the order, and is considering filing a motion for reconsideration.

However, for Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) President Ade Fajardo, the decision of the Ombudsman was "pretty solid," since it Purisima was under suspension for an entirely different case.

"If you act, or do certain actions pursuant to your functions as such official, you would be liable for usurpation of authority," Fajardo explained.

On the other hand, the IBP President said Aquino violated the anti-graft law after he influenced Purisima to act against the Ombudsman's order.

"As far as the suspension of Purisima was concerned, it is pretty much established because the Ombudsman knows her own orders and for the President to not have been aware of such an order, that would be quite a stretch, if you ask me," Fajardo said.