SC lifts TRO on Mamasapano trial at Sandiganbayan

Maris Federez   •   August 7, 2019   •   1402

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

PNP-SAF on standby for election security deployment – Eleazar

Robie de Guzman   •   September 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Police General Guillermo Eleazar on Thursday said he has ordered the Special Action Force (SAF) to prepare for its possible deployment to provide security during the election period.

In a statement, Eleazar directed SAF director PMGen Felipe Natividad to prepare his men for possible deployment in areas where intense political rivalry and history of election-related violent incidents would be monitored.

“Inatasan ko na rin ang Director, SAF na maghanda sa posibleng immediate deployment sa mga lugar na sa tingin namin ay maaaring maging security concerns dahil sa mahigpit na political rivalry,” Eleazar said in a statement.

He also told all police regional directors to intensify target-hardening measures and security adjustments following three separate attacks on local politicians.

These include the incident where motorcycle-riding men lobbed a grenade at the house of Cagayan de Oro City Representative Rufus Rodriguez.

A town councilor in Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte died in an ambush while a bodyguard of a vice mayoral candidate in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao survived a gun attack, the PNP said.

“Inatasan ko na ang lahat ng Regional Directors na magsagawa ng mga target-hardening measures at security adjustments sa kani-kanilang area of responsibility lalo na at mag-uumpisa na ang filing of certificate of candidacy kung saan maaaring tumaas ang bilang ng election-related violent incidents,” Eleazar said.

The PNP chief earlier ordered all police commanders to initiate early election security preparations, especially with the start of the filing of certificate of candidacy on October 1.

He said the tight election security will continue during campaign period, election day and until the declaration of winners.

“The Philippine National Police commits to protect and defend our electoral process at all cost because we believe that the reign of violence and dishonesty during our electoral process is no democracy at all,” Eleazar said.

PNP to look into status of SAF supply contracts flagged by COA

Robie de Guzman   •   July 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Guillermo Eleazar on Tuesday said he has ordered the leadership of the police Special Action Force (SAF) to check the status of its “unmet” supply contracts that was earlier flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA).

In its 2020 annual audit report, COA said that at least 29 procurement contracts entered into by the PNP SAF with various suppliers have not yet been delivered.

The still undelivered supplies and equipment amount to almost P1.7 billion, according to the commission.

“I have directed the leadership of the SAF to determine and immediately report to me why some of these procurement contracts have not materialized,” Eleazar said in a statement.

“I have also tasked the SAF to report the current status of the contracts,” he added.

The undelivered SAF supplies and equipment include troop carriers, armored vehicles, machine guns, rifles, grenade and rocket launchers, pistols, mortar, parachutes, and tactical vests, among others.

COA has recommended for the SAF to terminate the contracts for the acquisition these supplies.

“We will consult with our PNP Legal Service kung ano ang mga susunod na hakbang na aming dapat gawin hinggil dito,” Eleazar said.

“These contracts are for the improvement of the elite force’s operational capability. Kaya’t ang focus natin dito ay talagang ma-i-deliver sa ating SAF ang mga equipment na makatutulong ng malaki sa kanilang operasyon,” he added.

PNoy laid to rest at Manila Memorial Park

Maris Federez   •   June 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Former President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III on Saturday afternoon was laid to rest beside his parents, democracy icons former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. and former President Corazon Aquino, in solemn rites, attended by family and friends.

At 1:43 p.m., Noynoy’s youngest sibling Kris Aquino placed his urn inside the tomb.

The patriotic song “Bayan Ko” was performed as his tomb was being sealed.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of mourners carrying yellow ribbons and Aquino’s pictures lined the funeral route in sending off the former President as it passed through C5 and SLEX from Ateneo de Manila to the Manila Memorial Park.

The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) also honored Aquino with a water salute, forming a water arch, as the funeral convoy exited the Ateneo grounds to Katipunan Avenue and along Dr. A. Santos Avenue before entering the Manila Memorial.

The funeral convoy lasted around 1 hour and 15 minutes from Quezon City to Parañaque City.

Upon the convoy’s arrival to the Manila Memorial Park, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) gave the former commander in chief full military honors.

The former president’s urn was welcomed by AFP chief of staff Gen. Cirilito Sobejana and Philippine National Police chief PGen. Guillermo Eleazar.

Part of the arrival honors is the playing of the national anthem and a 21-gun salute.

The honor guards then brought the urn to a funeral carriage adorned with yellow flowers.

A funeral march, participated by PNoy’s family, friends, and high-ranking AFP officials, was then given in honor of the former chief executive.

A Philippine Air Force helicopter dropped yellow flowers before the funeral march started and the BFP offered another water salute during the procession.

Before the inurnment, the Philippine flag was held by the honor guards on top of Aquino’s urn as AFP officials gave their final salutes.

Another 21-gun salute followed, after which, the Philippine flag was folded. Gen. Sobejana, in turn, then presented to Aquino’s sister Ballsy Aquino-Cruz. —/mbmf

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