Aquino indictment petty, says Aguirre

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Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said on Wednesday, July 19,  that the Ombudsman’s indictment against former president Benigno Aquino III over the botched Mamasapano operation in 2015 is “weak.”

Last week, the Ombudsman indicted Aquino for violation of the anti graft law and usurpation of authority for allowing his friend, suspended former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and retired Special Action Force (SAF) chief Getulio  Napeñast to play a role in carrying out the counterterrorism operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

“Masyadong maliit nga ‘yun (That’s too petty). As a matter of fact, we know that those are bailable cases with imprisonment of probably less than six years,” Aguirre told reporters.

When asked what case or cases should be filed by the Ombudsman against Aquino, Aguirre dismissed further commenting on the issue.

“I have not read the resolution of the Ombudsman. What I can only say is that by and large, the findings of fact of the Ombudsman are accurate. But when it comes to application of these findings as to what cases really should be filed, I am not yet in the position to comment on that,” the Justice chief said.

Napeñas, who was immediately dismissed following the ill-fated Jan. 25, 2015 operation, agreed with Aguirre, who was also his lawyer during the Senate inquiry into the Mamasapano carnage.

In a chance interview on Wednesday Napenas said he heard that the case filed against him is weak. He further insisted that the former president should have provided support during the operation.

“Yun ang pananagutan niya: Bakit ’di siya nag-provide ng tulong? Umaga hanggang hapon (That’s his liability: Why didn’t he provide help? From morning until afternoon),” Napeñas told reporters.

The retired SAF chief, who is being blamed by Aquino for the Mamasapano debacle, previously denied the former president’s claims saying the operation has a blessing from him.

Exchanges of text messages among the “key players” in the Mamasapano operation were already at the Senate, however, Napeñas said mobile phones did not undergo “forensic investigation.”

The retired SAF chief said that if the Senate really wanted to uncover the truth behind the Mamasapano incident, lawmakers  should ask the participation of the executives of telecommunications firms Smart Communications Inc. and Globe Telecom through a subpoena.

In previous interviews, the justice secretary claimed that Aquino and Purisima should be held responsible for the carnage of the SAF personnel, as Napeñas only submitted to the orders of his superior authority.

The former president said on an interview on Tuesday, July 18, that Aguirre should “keep quiet” about the Mamasapano case because the justice secretary now holds a different position.

“You (Aguirre) are in a position where you can influence so many different offices. And being the lawyer before [of Napeñas], now you are in a different role, ethically you should keep quiet which he said he will, and now he commented again on this,” Aquino said.

Aside from the 44 SAF men, 18 Moro fighters and several civilians were also killed in the said incident.

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