SC lifts TRO on Mamasapano trial at Sandiganbayan

Maris Federez   •   August 7, 2019   •   843

The Supreme Court has lifted the temporary restraining order (TRO) it had issued on the Mamasapano trial at the Sandiganbayan.

SC spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka in a statement on Wednesday said that the justices have voted the lifting of the temporary restraining order during Tuesday’s en banc session.

“I would like to confirm that the Supreme Court has lifted the TRO on the Mamasapano trial before the Sandiganbayan,” Hosaka’s statement said.

“With the lifting of the TRO, the Sandiganbayan may now proceed with the trial and act on pending matters filed before it,” he added.

The decision is expected to pave the way for possible action on the withdrawal of the graft and usurpation of authority charges against former President Benigno Aquino III in connection with the Mamasapano clash that killed 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos on January 25, 2015. 

The charges were filed with the Sandiganbayan in November 2017 by then Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

Charged with Aquino were former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima and former PNP-SAF director Getulio Napeñas, Jr.

Aquino was scheduled to be arraigned, but the SC issued a TRO that halted the proceedings in the case in February last year, acting on a petition by relatives of two of the slain elite policemen that Aquino be charged instead with reckless imprudence resulting in homicide.

In June this year, Ombudsman Samuel Martires moved to withdraw the graft and usurpation charges against the former president, saying he found no sufficient ground and evidence.

Martires, however, added that his decision was without prejudice to the filing of appropriate charges against the accused after the conduct of a preliminary investigation.

In July, Sandiganbayan, on the other hand, said the anti-graft court will wait for the SC to lift the TRO before it could act on the Ombudsman’s motion. (with details from Mai Bermudez) /mbmf

ABS-CBN may ask SC for TRO against shutdown order — NTC

Marje Pelayo   •   May 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) advises media giant ABS-CBN to appeal for a temporary restraining order (TRO) with the Supreme Court (SC) to resume broadcast on TV and radio after its shutdown on Tuesday evening (May 5).

According to NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios, a TRO is ABS-CBN’s potential remedy for now to stop the cease and desist order issued by the agency after the network’s franchise lapsed on May 4.

“If they get the TRO then they can resume operation,” Cabarios said. 

The NTC explained that only the Congress has the power to grant a franchise to media networks in the country.

“Section 1 kasi ng Act 3846 ay klaro na kung wala kang congressional franchise, you cannot operate radio broadcasting stations, [Section 1 of Republic Act 3846 is clear, without congressional franchise you cannot operate radio broadcasting stations],” the NTC official said. 

Cabarios clarified, however, that ABS-CBN programs may still be aired on other platforms.

Pwede sa online, Internet, pwede ring cable television or pwede ring sa ibang radio and television stations na mayroon valid franchise at authority from the Commission [They can go online, they may use the Internet or other cable, radio or television stations that have valid franchise and authority from the Commission],” he noted. 

Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemned the NTC’s action saying it was an attack on press freedom.

“The cease and desist order issued by the NTC against ABS-CBN is a deplorable assault on free press that further reveals that this administration is more interested in restricting basic freedoms than in containing a pandemic,” the group said in a statement.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) noted the importance of the media’s role in democracy.

Gusto lang natin na ma-tackle ito, ma-deliberate ito, [We want this tackled and deliberated],” argued CHR spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline De Guia.

Kasi ang isa sa mga suliranin sa kasong ito ay hindi nagkakaroon ng tamang pagdinig doon sa issue na kinakaharap para sa pagre-renew ng franchise, [One of the problems in this case is the lack of deliberation on the franchise renewal]” she concluded. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

105 CBRNE-trained police officers ready to be deployed upon DOH request —PNP

Maris Federez   •   February 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines— The Philippine National Police (PNP) confirmed that it has manpower ready to respond in case the Department of Health requests for support in addressing any related 2019-nCoV concerns.

PNP chief PGen. Archie Gamboa said his men are ready to help in the contact tracing of people who may have been in contact with patients who tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

These police officers have undergone training on Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Yield Explosives (CBRNE).

They belong to the Special Action Force (SAF), the Health Service, the Crime Laboratory, and the Explosives and Ordnance Division-K9 Unit of the PNP.

Gamboa said these men are used to being installed in the frontline in case the DOH requests for their help in placing suspected nCoV patients in quarantine.

“Tutulong ang PNP but we are just presenting na merong kaming ganitong pwersa whom they can use.  Hindi naman talaga ito pang may sakit. This is for chemical warfare but equally they are protected so they can be used. Inilalatag lang namin na meron kaming capability na ganito and ready to be deployed at anytime,” Gamboa said.

Gamboa added that these men have the necessary equipment such as the Hazzard Material (Hazmat) suit.

The PNP chief also directed the directors of the national support unit, regional directors, and unit commanders to see to it that each PNP office is provided alcohol, that every personnel has acquired the habit of frequent hand-washing and proper hygiene.

“Imagine a face mask would only last for 8 hours. Eh kung lahat ng pulis pagamitin natin, that’s 205,000 and that’s everyday so you can imagine the cost of it. We are also in touch on the available resources we have kaya ang directive ko only when it is necessary, especially yung pag nasa places of convergence”, Gamboa said.

The PNP is also mulling over the possibility of implementing a lockdown of the training facilities, including the PNPA, NPTI, and the regional training service to ensure the safety and protection of the cadets and trainees.

Gamboa also directed the CIDG and the local police to help the Department of Trade and Industry and the local government units in monitoring the prices and suspected hoarding of face masks. —(from the report of Lea Ylagan) /mbmf

Sandiganbayan junks raps vs Purisima, Napeñas over Mamasapano clash

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 22, 2020

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

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