MANILA — The Sandiganbayan has suspended the arraignment of former President Benigno Aquino III and two other accused in the Mamasapano massacre, following the Supreme Court’s (SC) issuance of a temporary restraining order on the case.
The anti-graft court also held up the arraignment of former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima and former PNP-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) Director Getulio Napeñas on the same case.
“This Court thus holds in abeyance the arraignment and pre-trial it tentatively set on February 15, 2018 with respect to Aquino III, Purisima, and Napeñas,” the Sandiganbayan said in its resolution.
Each of the three respondents is facing one count of violation of Republic Act No. 3019, or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act”, and usurpation of official function.
Division Chairman Associate Justice Alex Quiroz, Associate Justices Reynaldo Cruz, and Bayani Jacinto signed the resolution dated Feb. 12, 2018.
Charges against the three respondents arose from the police anti-terror operation on Jan. 15, 2015 that killed Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan”, but cost the lives of 44 PNP-SAF commandos.
In a resolution dated Feb. 7, 2018, the SC stopped the anti-graft court from proceeding with the arraignment of Aquino for graft and usurpation charges over the Mamasapano massacre.
The high court also enjoined the Office of the Ombudsman from implementing its decision to dismiss the homicide charges against the former president and his two co-accused.
The SC had acted on a petition filed by the relatives of the two PNP-SAF commandos who were killed during the operation.
In November 2017, the petitioners asked the SC to nullify the decision of the Ombudsman that dismissed the complaint about reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicides filed against Aquino, Purisima, and Napeñas.
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) had earlier asked the SC to order the Ombudsman to file homicide charges against Aquino.
On Feb. 9, 2018, the anti-graft court received the official notice and copy of the TRO from the SC First Division.
The TRO was signed by SC First Division Clerk of Court Atty. Edgar Aricheta said. PNA-northboundasia.com