MANILA — On the eve of the second anniversary of the Mamasapano clash that claimed the lives of 44 Special Action Force troops, state prosecutors finally filed charges at the Sandiganbayan against two top police officials who bypassed the chain of command in planning the botched operation.
Dismissed Philippine National Police Director-General Alan Purisima and retired Special Action Forces Director Getulio Napeñas were formally charged on Tuesday for usurpation of authority under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code.
They were also charged for violating Section 3(a) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits the act of persuading a public officer to violate rules and regulations.
Assistant Special Prosecutor Reza Casila-Derayunan recommended that bail be fixed at a total of P20,000 each for the two officials. Acting Assistant Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices Dennis Garcia and 4th SAF Battalion Commander, Police Superintendent Hendrix Mangaldan are two of the witnesses to be presented.
Although Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales first issued a finding of probable cause to press charges in April and denied their appeals in June, it took prosecutors seven months to finally bring the case to the anti-graft court.
During the Jan. 25, 2015 encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, 44 elite commandos were killed by the rebels from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, splinter group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and various private armed groups.
Controversy flared after it was revealed that then President Benigno Aquino III entrusted the operation to neutralize two terror targets to his close friend Purisima despite his suspension pending a probe on an unrelated graft case involving the delivery of firearms licenses.
The charge sheet for usurpation of authority stated that Purisima took part in the so-called Oplan Exodus “under pretense of official position and without being lawfully entitled to do so.”
As for the graft charge, Purisima allegedly induced Napeñas to violate the PNP Chain of Command, and the Ombudsman’s Dec. 10, 2014 preventive suspension order.