Palace hands off Ombudsman’s withdrawal of cases vs. Aquino

MANILA — Malacañang said it will keep its hands off the Office of the Ombudsman’s decision to move for the withdrawal of the graft and usurpation of authority cases filed against former President Benigno Aquino III at the Sandiganbayanx for his role in the Mamasapano incident in 2015.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo reiterated that the Palace will not meddle with the Office of the Ombudsman and other branches of government and constitutional bodies.

“The Palace doesn’t interfere with the other branches of the government as well as constitutional bodies. They have their assigned constitutional functions,” Panelo said in a statement on Saturday.

“They should freely perform their given constitutional tasks without interference from anyone or entity,” he added.

On Monday, the Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division confirmed that Ombudsman Samuel Martires filed a motion to withdraw information finding no sufficient ground to charge Aquino for graft and usurpation of official functions.

Martires said the withdrawal of cases is “without prejudice to the filing of appropriate charges against the accused after the conduct of preliminary investigation.”

The motion has been set for hearing on July 12.

These charges were filed against the former chief executive in 2017, under the authority of then Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

They stemmed from Aquino’s move to allow suspended Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Alan Purisima, to participate in a botched police operation, which resulted in the death of over 60 people – including 44 members of the PNP-Special Action Force (SAF). (PNA)

By Azer Parrocha