Duterte denies hand in raps vs Aquino in Mamasapano case

Former President Benigno Aquino III

Former President Benigno Aquino III INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / LYN RILLON

Published: 2:09 p.m., Jan. 27, 2018 | 11:23 p.m., Jan. 27, 2018

DAVAO CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday denied he had a hand in the government’s renewed effort to pin responsibility on former President Benigno Aquino III for the death of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, in January 2015.

Mr. Duterte said that “mistakes” ruined the Special Action Force (SAF) operation to kill Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and led to the commandos’ massacre.

“It is not my style. It is not in my system,” said the President when asked if he actually supported the upgrading of charges against his predecessor.

In a 44-page manifestation before the Supreme Court’s First Division on Thursday, Solicitor General Jose Calida sought a reversal of the Ombudsman’s 2017 ruling dropping the charges of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide against Aquino and Allan Purisima, former director general of the Philippine National Police, in connection with the Mamasapano operation.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Friday that Malacañang supported Calida’s move.

Though he was not ready to make accusations, Mr. Duterte said he had many questions about the botched operation.

“[Maybe it was just] Murphy’s Law. If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong. I can’t understand Mamasapano,” he said.

“We can only presume that (Aquino and Purisima) did it in the wrong way,” he added.

After finding “no probable cause” to charge Aquino and Purisima with multiple homicide, the Ombudsman instead filed charges of graft and usurpation of authority against the two in the Sandiganbayan last Nov. 8, 2017.

Mr. Duterte said he had also decided not to form a Mamasapano commission to inquire into the antiterror operation that also claimed the lives of 25 Moro gunmen and civilians.

“Not anymore because I realized that once again … anyway (the charges) had been filed already. What more do you want? It’s already there; P-Noy had been sued,” he said.

The President, however, said Aquino could have used all the government’s resources to save lives during the fighting.

The military should not be blamed for the SAF fiasco, he said, because “the Army was not authorized to do anything because this was an exclusive affair.”

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