Palace won’t interfere on Ombudsman’s withdrawal of raps vs Noynoy
Robie de Guzman • July 1, 2019 • 766
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang said it will not meddle with the Office of the Ombudsman’s decision to move for the withdrawal of the graft and usurpation cases filed against former President Benigno Aquino III in relation with the Mamasapano encounter in 2015.
“The Palace doesn’t interfere with the other branches of the government as well as constitutional bodies. They have their assigned constitutional functions,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement on Saturday.
“They should freely perform their given constitutional tasks without interference from anyone or any entity,” he added.
Panelo’s statement comes after Ombudsman Samuel Martires filed a motion to withdraw the violation of anti-graft laws and usurpation charges that the government filed against Aquino in connection with the deaths of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in 2015.
In a two-page resolution dated June 24, Martires said the withdrawal of charges was due to lack of sufficient ground to charge Aquino for graft and usurpation of official functions under the Revised Penal Code.
The charges, filed by then Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, stemmed from Aquino’s decision to allow suspended National Police chief Alan Purisima to participate in the botched operation which resulted in the death of SAF troopers.
The Sandiganbayan has dismissed the charges against former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and ex-PNP Special Action Force chief Getulio Napeñas over the Mamasapano clash in 2015.
The dismissal of the charges against the two former police officers was due to the lack of probable cause to charge them of graft and usurpation of official functions complaints for their involvement in the anti-terrorist operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in 2015.
The said operation led to the deaths of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.
Purisima was charged for still leading the operation to kill terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir or Marwan and Abdul Basit Usman, under Oplan Exodus, despite being suspended as the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief.
Napeñas, on the other hand, was also charged for allegedly conspiring with Purisima.
Based on the resolution, Purisima and Napeñas cannot be charged due to the lack of sufficient evidence.
“There is no mention in the information, nor any evidence on record, that accused Napeñas received or expected to receive any material remuneration or consideration therefor,” the resolution states. “It could not be said that Purisima was under the pretense of being a PNP chief because he was ordered by his president and commander-in-chief to perform such supervision and monitoring.”
Purisima and Napeñas were charged with violating Section 3(a) of the anti-graft law which punishes “persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations.”
Meanwhile, the Sandiganbayan said the dismissal of the criminal complaints did not mean that the two accused had no liability over the Mamasapano clash and appropriate charges can still be filed against them.
“What the court merely ruled is the non-existence of probable cause against Napeñas in both charges and the insufficiency of the allegations in the information filed against Purisima,” the resolution reads.—AAC
MANILA, Philippines — Ombudsman Samuel Martires on Wednesday (December 18) lambasted journalist Malou Mangahas for secretly recording him in an informal conversation regarding his decision not to release President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) for 2018.
In a statement, Judge Martires stressed that what he had with Mangahas was never a formal interview but a brief, informal conversation while the journalist was being persistent, tailing him in the hallway of a hotel in Manila on Monday (December 9).
Martires said he was never informed by Mangahas that she was already interviewing him and worse, he was not informed that the journalist was already recording him.
“For the record, hindi humingi ng consent mula sa akin bilang interviewee si Ms. Mangahas para irekord ang aming kaswal na pag-uusap (Ms. Mangahas did not ask for my permission to record our casual conversation),” Martires said.
“Sa ganang akin, hindi lamang niya nilapastangan ang aking pagkatao ngunit nilabag pa niya ang Anti-Wiretapping Law (For my part, she did not only disrespect my person but she also violated the Anti-Wiretapping Law),” he stressed.
Martires continued saying Mangahas showed an “unethical behavior” unbecoming of a veteran journalist and writer.
Martires insisted that while he recognizes the public’s right to access SALNs of public officials, he is mandated to protect their rights as well under the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 6713.
In reaction to Martires’ claims, Mangahas posted on the website of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) her side of the story.
“Ombudsman Martires knew that as a public official with expertise and mandate on the issues raised, he was speaking face-to-face with a journalist with a legitimate journalistic purpose, on a matter of public interest. The conversation occurred in a public space and even with the full knowledge and in full view of his own personnel from the Office of the Ombudsman,” the PCIJ Executive Director said.
“PCIJ respects the views of Ombudsman Martires on this matter but respectfully insists, too, that all he has to do now is release President Duterte’s SALN for 2018, pending the long-awaited issuance of his new guidelines, and consistent with the mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman as ‘the Protector of the People,’” she added.
This was Malacañang’s response to Vice President Leni Robredo and her ally, former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino after they questioned President Rodrigo Duterte’s lack of trust in the vice president despite her appointment as co-chairperson of the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs (ICAD).
In a statement issued on Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that Robredo must “understand that one’s election to the Vice Presidency does not automatically clothe the occupant with trustworthiness.”
“Trust is earned. The missteps of the VP did not inspire confidence in the matter of keeping to oneself classified information,” he said.
“Her job in leading the agencies involved in the anti-illegal drug campaign requires competence and creativity. Trust comes into play only as regards the non-transmission of state secrets that imperils the safety of the Filipino people and the sovereignty of the country,” he added.
Panelo also said that the president’s expressed remark should not stop Robredo from performing her new task.
“Since she will not be given access to privileged communication, she should not be bothered by the expressed lack of trust by the appointing power with respect to the confidentiality of state matters requiring secrecy,” he said.
“After all, she is tasked to help end the illegal drug trade in the country and not to get secret information of the government to share the same with her foreign and local peers,” he added.
The Palace official also reiterated that despite her being a member of a political opposition group, she was still given the job to co-lead the government anti-drug body to help address the country’s drug problem instead of “endlessly voicing criticisms.”
“Her designation is a call of duty coming from the Chief Executive to end the illegal drug trade in the country, a rare chance given to her, despite her being in the opposition, to help in the campaign against illegal drugs, instead of being a rambunctious critic who cannot see anything good on the war on drugs initiated by this administration,” he said.
Panelo also asked Aquino to focus on his case still pending before the Sandiganbayan, as well as taking care of his health, instead of “touching on a matter related to the dreaded drug menace that he never gave the attention and importance it deserves during his six-year presidency.”
The Palace official earlier claimed that the country’s drug problem “ballooned in magnitude” due to neglect during Aquino’s presidency. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)
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