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Ombudsman formally charges Noynoy for graft, usurpation at Sandiganbayan

Four months after finding probable cause, the Ombudsman on Wednesday formally filed the criminal complaint against former President Benigno Aquino III with the Sandiganbayan over his alleged role in the anti-terrorist operation that led to the massacre of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in 2015.

Based on the case information, Aquino is facing one count each for violation of Section 3(a) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and usurpation of official function as defined under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code.

The Ombudsman indicted Aquino last July with former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima and former SAF Director Getulio Napeñas for the same offense. 

But Aquino was the only respondent in the case filed at the Sandiganbayan since Purisima and Napenas are already facing trial for the same offense before the anti-graft court's Fourth Division.

The Ombudsman accused Aquino of influencing Purisima, forcing him to defy his preventive suspension and the PNP chain of command which was then under Acting PNP chief Leonardo Espina.

The anti-graft body said Purisima gave instructions, received reports and recommendations, and approved the actions of Napeñas during the operation dubbed as Oplan Exodus.

"Aquino fully knew that Purisima was under preventive suspension from office and that it was Officer-In-Charge PNP chief Leonardo Espina who had the authority to oversee the preparation for and conduct of Oplan Exodus, to the damage of public interest," the charge sheet read.

The Ombudsman recommended a total bail of P40,000 on Aquino's case, P30,000 for graft and P10,000 for usurpation of official function.

Oplan Exodus

Almost 400 SAF troopers went to Mamasapano, Maguindanao on the midnight of January 24, 2015 in pursuit of wanted terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan.

The operation, dubbed as Oplan Exodus, neutralized Marwan but also resulted in an encounter with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Forty-four troopers of the PNP's elite team perished as they were moving out of the area.


Part of the Ombudsman's evidence against Aquino were text messages between the former chief executive and the then-suspended Purisima.

The Ombudsman noted that Aquino continued to receive Purisima's advice, as shown on text messages presented in the Senate probe on the massacre, despite the police official's suspension over the alleged anomalous courier service deal the PNP entered under his leadership. 

Aquino filed a motion for reconsideration where he emphasized that he was only exercising his duty to maximize all government resources available to ensure the success of the operation

The Ombudsman, however, junked the motion as well as the MR of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption to reconsider the charges of reckless imprudence resulting to multiple homicide against Aquino.

In a 27-page consolidated order signed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on September 11, the anti-graft body said it found "no cogent reason to reverse or modify the assailed resolution" after a fresh evaluation of the evidence. — RSJ, GMA News