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Anti-crime body seeks to reopen SAF 44 incident

Along with ex-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group head and now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption on Friday filed a motion to reopen the Mamasapano case and reconsider new pieces of evidence.

In a seven-page motion, lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, representing the kin of some of the 44 police officers killed in Mamasapano in 2015, urged Ombudsman Samuel Martires to hold former President Benigno Aquino III liable for homicide, saying the complainants had new evidence and a witness to present.

On Jan. 25, 2015, 44 Special Action Force commandos were killed in the botched “Oplan Exodus” in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, in their bid to capture Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, who had a $5-million price on his head being offered by the US Department of Justice. 

Marwan was killed in the operation, along with 18 Moro Islamic Liberation rebels who clashed with the commandos, and seven civilians.

Two years after the botched operation, in July 2017, the Office of the Ombudsman filed in the Sandiganbayan charges of graft and usurpation of official functions against Aquino, former Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima, and Chief Supt. Getulio Napeñas, then SAF commander, for bypassing the PNP chain of command that led to the commandos’ deadly clash with Moro rebels and their armed allies.

They, however, were cleared of the more serious charge of reckless imprudence. 

“We are respectfully urging the Ombudsman to reopen the reinvestigation of the above-captioned case against former President Benigno C. Aquino III for the deaths of the SAF 44,” Topacio’s motion says.

“In addition to the evidence already on record, we are attaching herein a copy of the Affidavit of… Magalong as evidence to support the filing for the crime of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code against the former President.”

On June 24, Martires manifested the withdrawal of the charges filed before the Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division that granted the raps’ dismissal on Aug. 22.

Topacio said the victims’ relatives were hoping that they could be able to attain justice under a “fair and impartial” Ombudsman.

Magalong submitted an affidavit from the Board of Inquiry report.

“Yes, I think there was negligence,” he said, referring to the dismissal of the charges.

“If only those handling the case had been just decisive, this would have not happened.”

READ: Four years on, justice eludes SAF 44; swift closure urged

READ: SAF 44 families hold protest at Ombudsman’s office

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