Palace: Resolve Mamasapano massacre cases

January 25, 2019
Salvador Panelo

MALACANANG yesterday called for a speedy resolution of cases stemming from the bloody Mamasapano clash which took place four years ago and left over 60 people dead, including 44 Special Action Force commandos.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement as the country observed yesterday the National Day of Remembrance for the 44 elite SAF members who died in the encounter with Moro rebels and private armed groups following an anti-terror operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25, 2015.

“Even as we continue to pray for the eternal repose of the souls of these gallant heroes who were recipients posthumously of the PNP (Philippine National Police) Medal of Valor and as we share in the grief of their bereaved families, we urge the Office of the Ombudsman to resolve with dispatch the case filed against those who recklessly placed them in mortal peril,” Panelo said.

“The nation demands justice for them as well as the prosecution of those responsible for the botched police operation,” he added.

Former President Benigno Aquino III, former PNP chief Alan Purisima and former SAF director Chief Superintendent Getulio Napeñas Jr. are facing charges for graft and usurpation of official functions before the Sandiganbayan over the botched police operations.

But the trial has yet to commence as the Supreme Court halted in February last year the proceedings including Aquino’s arraignment following a petition filed by the victims’ relatives who questioned the Ombudsman’s decision that dismissed the reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide charges they had filed against Aquino, Purisima and Napeñas.

The petitioners called on the high court to direct the Ombudsman to file reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide cases in court against Aquino and the two former police officials.

President Rodrigo Duterte said in July 2017 that the “silly” charges against Aquino seemed to have been designed to fail in court.

Duterte said he did not see anything wrong with Aquino consulting then-suspended PNP chief Purisima about the execution of Oplan Exodus, the operation against Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli Bin-hir alias Marwan and Filipino bandit leader Basit Usman.

Duterte said that as President, Aquino had the power to call Purisima for help.

The Ombudsman, however, accused Aquino of influencing Purisima, forcing him to defy his preventive suspension and the PNP chain of command which was then under PNP officer-in-charge and retired Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina.

The operation neutralized Marwan but also resulted in an encounter with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and private armed groups.

Forty-four SAF troopers perished as they were moving out of the area. Eighteen Moro fighters and five civilians also died in the encounter.

“Never again will we allow a recurrence of such tragic event. Those in authority must learn from the mistakes of the past otherwise those valorous men in uniform would have died in vain,” Panelo said.

Panelo, meanwhile, said the Palace would look into the claim of Helen Ramacula, mother of the late Police Officer 2 Rodel Ramacula, that they have not fully received the financial assistance promised by the government.

Ramacula is one of the petitioners in the SC case in relation to the Mamasapano incident.