SAF 44 kin to appeal Ombudsman order clearing Aquino of homicide raps

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 15) — Relatives of police commandos killed in the botched Mamasapano operation in January 2015 are not giving up on the homicide charges they filed against former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.

Ferdinand Topacio, legal counsel for the families of the slain Special Action Force (SAF) members, said they will appeal the Ombudsman's decision to clear Aquino of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicides.

"Ang sinasabi dito hindi raw proximate cause yung kay Pangulong Aquino. Pero nakalagay sa batas, a person who sets in motion a series of events para mangyari yung pagkamatay is also criminally responsible for reckless imprudence resulting to homicide," Topacio said in a press briefing on Saturday.

[Translation: "The resolution said Aquino's case did not involve a proximate cause. But according to the law, a person who sets in motion a series of events for the killing to happen, is also criminally responsible for reckless imprudence resulting to homicide."]

The complainants have five days to appeal the Ombudsman's resolution released Friday.

Topacio said they are ready to take their fight all the way to the Supreme Court.

Forty-four members of the Special Action Forces, known as the SAF 44, were killed on January 25, 2015 after an encounter with Moro rebels in the town of Mamasapano in Maguindanao.

The Ombudsman on Friday ordered the filing of criminal charges against Aquino for usurpation of authority under the Revised Penal Code and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

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

It said Aquino was "liable" since he allowed then PNP Chief Alan Purisima to play a major role in the Mamasapano operation despite being under preventive suspension.

Aquino's former Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the former president will file a motion for reconsideration to appeal the "erroneous conclusion."

'Oust the Ombudsman'

The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), which filed a complaint against Aquino together with the SAF kin, believes "downgrading" Aquino's case is part of a grand scheme to eventually absolve him of any liability.

"We feel, especially survivors of SAF 44 victims in Mamasapano that this is an orchestrated design to eventually whitewash and drop the case against Former President Aquino," VACC Founding Chairperson Dante Jimenez said.

They want Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ousted for favoring Aquino.

"She either resigns or we will proceed with the impeachment complaint that our lawyers have been preparing for a long time, Jimenez said.

Also read: Ombudsman 'downgraded' charges vs Aquino – VACC

What went before

The military said they were not informed of the Mamasapano operation, but the police said they only tried to avoid compromising it.

Twenty-four hours after stepping down from the presidency on July 1, 2016, Aquino was slapped with a criminal complaint from several relatives of the SAF 44, who accused him of reckless imprudence resulting in 44 homicides.

All in all, three complaints were filed before the Office of the Ombudsman against Aquino and his co-accused, former PNP Chief Purisima and then SAF Commander Getulio Napeñas Jr.