DAVAO CITY, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is seeing a weak case of usurpation of authority against former President Benigno Aquino III over the botched operations of the elite Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in 2015.
Duterte, a lawyer and former prosecutor here said Aquino cannot be charged criminally, he being the commander-in-chief of all armed forces during his incumbency as president of the country.
At that time, Aquino also served as chief of the executive department of the government overseeing the Department of Interior and Local Government, the agency where the PNP is attached to.
“He can call anybody to help him fight a criminal operation there. He was not using an administrative talent — in appointments, in signing there was, he was just asking for the advice from a professional police,” Duterte said.
The Ombudsman indicted Aquino in a ruling that was released last week, ordering for the filing of criminal charges against the former president for usurpation of Authority as defined in Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code.
Aquino, during the entire operations of the SAF-PNP in Mamasapano utilized former PNP chief Alan Purisima who at that time was slapped with a suspension by the Ombudsman in a separate case.
Purisima and former PNP-SAF director Getulio Napeñas were also indicted by the Ombudsman as co-conspirators of Aquino.
But for Duterte, there was nothing wrong with the acts of Aquino during the SAF operations in Mamasapano.
“I do not see anything wrong there. Nothing was signed. Nothing was … [inaudible] by Purisima except that he was helping the President implement the law,” he said.
The President said that when the president assumes a role or usurped, such as what Aquino did in Mamasapano operations, that act was perfectly legal because he has the control of all the departments in the government.
“Control, because he has the power to override, or change, or amend your order. Kumbaga si (Arthur) Tugade mag-order, sabihin ko, ‘Huwag ‘yan, ito ‘yung gusto ko’ o si Delfin Lorenzana magsabi, ‘Magpadala tayo ng doon’ tapos sabi ko, ‘Huwag, hindi pa panahon’, tapos may nangyari. That is my prerogative,” Duterte pointed out.
Trust was also a factor why Aquino ordered Purisima to help him during the Mamasapano operations, he added.
“And he can call anybody he wants. Pagka sabi niya: ‘Halika dito, Alan Purisima. You are my Chief sa PNP. Tulungan mo ako dito.’ What’s wrong with that? He was not usurping. He did not take an oath there and said that “I am assuming as … Wala man. He was just being consulted. Kaya ‘yung charge kay Aquino will fail. ‘Yung usurpation,” the President stressed.
File strong cases vs. P-noy
Moro group Suara Bangsamoro called on President Duterte on Monday to file strong charges against Aquino.
Suara Bangsamoro was among the groups that welcomed the decision of the Ombudsman on the Mamasapano incident but also insisted that the decision was long overdue.
The group said the culpability of Aquino and the US government during the Mamasapano operation was already determined by various groups during a fact-finding mission conducted in the area days after the incident.
A total of 44 members of SAF, 37 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and six civilians were killed during the incident.
“Madaming kasalanan sa bayan si Aquino,” said Jerome Aba, national chair of Suara Bangsamoro in a statement to Davao Today on Tuesday.
Aba cited the EDCA or the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the US which he described as treacherous as it violated the sovereignty of the country.
EDCA was further enhanced during the administration of Aquino that paved the way for the numerous activities of US forces in the country, particularly in Mindanao.
He also mentioned the mess in the pork barrel and the Disbursement Acceleration Program under the Aquino government and the long record of human rights violations due to extra-judicial killings.
“Aquino is liable to the long records of human rights violations that include the more than 500 cases of EJKs and the 15 massacres that happened during his term,” he stressed.
But alongside his call on the present government to press serious charges against the former president, Aba also expressed apprehensions if such call will be acted upon by President Duterte.
He said EJKs and human rights violations continue to persist under the Duterte administration.
“How can you trust the Duterte government to hold Aquino accountable for such crimes and violations when the same happenings continue to exist today under his administration?” Aba asked. (davaotoday.com)