January 13, 2018
MANILA – The Sandiganbayan reset former President Benigno Aquino III’s arraignment for graft and usurpation of authority charges in relation to the 2015 Mamasapano, Maguindanao encounter.
Atty. Romeo Fernandez, the former President’s lawyer, said the anti-graft court’s fourth division decided to reschedule Aquino’s arraignment to Feb. 15 as their motion to quash the cases has yet to be resolved.
Aquino, who posted a P40,000 bail even before the Sandiganbayan issued an arrest warrant against him last November 2017, did not show up during the scheduled arraignment yesterday.
The Ombudsman filed graft and usurpation of authority charges against Aquino before the Sandiganbayan for the bungled operation that resulted to the death of 44 Philippine National Police-Special Action Forces (PNP-SAF) troopers.
Based on the case information, Aquino allowed then PNP director general Alan Purisima to have an active role in “Oplan Exodus” despite knowing that the latter was under preventive suspension and should not perform any official duty.
Aquino also instructed Purisima to coordinate with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and communicated exclusively with the former police chief at the height of the operations on Jan. 25, 2015.
The anti-graft court formally filed the complaints after it denied Aquino’s motion for reconsideration and upheld its June 2017 resolution finding probable cause for the indictment of the former President.
The bloody operation led to the death of international terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan but also resulted in the death of 44 PNP-SAF commandos, some Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels, and a few civilians./PN