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De Lima: Initial DOJ findings show PNoy not criminally liable for Mamasapano clash

(Updated 6 p.m.) Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Monday said evidence gathered so far do not show that President Benigno Aquino III is criminally liable for the deadly January 25 Mamasapano clash.

"Sa ngayon wala akong nakikita na puwedeng [magpakita na] criminally culpable ang Pangulo," De Lima told reporters in Manila.

De Lima, however, clarified that the DOJ is not authorized to determine whether or not Aquino can be held criminally liable for the January 25 Mamasapano clash.

She said while the DOJ's own probe on the incident seeks to determine who could be charged for the bloody encounter, the President is not one of them.

"Alam niyo naman na iyong pinaka-thrust ng DOJ investigation... ay iyong criminal accountabilities and liabilities," she said. "Wala kaming jurisdiction na mag-determine ng criminal liability on the part of the president."

More than 60 people, including 44 elite policemen and 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels, were killed in the January 25 Mamasapano encounter, which happened while government forces were trying to capture high-profile terrorist targets in the area.

De Lima also reminded the public that Aquino, as president, is immune from suits.

Despite disagreeing with the PNP Board of Inquiry's conclusions, De Lima said the police findings would still be helpful to the DOJ's own investigation, currently being conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation and the National Prosecution Service.

"Even if kinukuwestyon ko, dinidispute ko iyong naging premise ng BOI with respect to its conclusion as to the role and the possible liability of the President, hindi ibig sabihin na hindi na namin ikokonsidera iyong BOI report," said De Lima.

"Certainly, marami pa rin inputs and findings dyan sa BOI report, which are worth factoring in in our own investigation," she added.

De Lima refused to say who investigators are currently considering to hold liable for the Mamasapano clash, saying she does not want to be “pre-emptive of our own findings.”

De Lima, however, has already instructed the NBI and the NPS to thoroughly go over the BOI report and determine whether they could also interview witnesses and resource persons who had already been reached by the PNP.

"Ie-evaluate namin. Kung ano iyong mga ipapa-clarify namin sa BOI, kung sino iyong mga puwede naming ma-invite na nga witnesses na nababanggit sa BOI report, gagawin rin namin... na matanong ng clarificatory questions for example," De Lima said.

De Lima once again said her office continues to wait for the respective probe results of the Senate and the MILF.

De Lima also said she wondered why people are making a "big deal" out of the correspondence between Aquino and suspended PNP chief DIrector General Alan Purisima, who is said to be remotely calling the shots and who admitted giving "advice" on the Mamasapano police operation.

"Iyong pakikiusap kay Purisima na supposedly suspended, ano masama noon? Unang-una, maituturing natin ang Oplan Exodus, just like previous oplans, ay maituturing na 'baby' ni Purisima kasi sya ang nagplano from the start," she said. —KBK, GMA News