Graft, ursupation trial vs Aquino and others can now proceed
THE PHILIPPINE Supreme Court on Wednesday, August 7, has lifted the temporary restraining order on the Mamasapano trial, paving the way for the Sandiganbayan to rule on the plea of Ombudsman Samuel Martires to withdraw the criminal charges filed by his predecessor Conchita Carpio Morales against former President Benigno Aquino III.
“For those asking and upon verification with the Chief Justice, I would like to confirm that the Supreme Court has lifted the TRO on the Mamasapano trial before the Sandiganbayan,” SC spokesman Brian Keith Hosaka said in a text message.
Aquino, as well as former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima, and former PNP-SAF director Getulio Napeñas, Jr., are all facing graft and usurpation charges filed in 2017 before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the Jan. 25, 2015 Mamasapano incident which resulted in the death of 60 individuals, including 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF).
Relatives and family members of the SAF commandos, collectively known as SAF44, filed a petition with the Supreme Court asking that Aquino be charged with reckless imprudence resulting in homicide instead.
Homicide carries a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment, while graft carries 15 years and usurpation, four years and two months.
In June, Martires moved to withdraw the graft and usurpation charges against Aquino, saying the charges filed by Morales had been denounced as “weak.”
Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Alex Quiroz in July said the anti-graft court will have to wait for the SC to lift the TRO before it could act on the Ombudsman’s motion.
In February 2018, the SC’s First Division issued the TRO against the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan, just before Aquino, Purisima and Napeñas were set to be arraigned.