The Ombudsman has affirmed the filing of usurpation and graft charges against dismissed Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and sacked Special Action Force (SAF) commander Getulio Napeñas for their roles in the botched anti-terror raid that resulted in the deaths of 44 elite cops in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last year.
In a statement on Thursday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said she had denied the motions for reconsideration filed by the two on the Ombudsman’s earlier resolution finding probable cause against them.
Morales ordered the filing of information before the Sandiganbayan for violation of Section 3(a) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019) and Usurpation of Authority or Official Function.
They were also found guilty of the administrative offenses of grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
As Purisima was dismissed from the service in June 2015 due to an earlier graft indictment and Napeñas retired in July 2015, the penalty is a fine equivalent to their salary of one year.
They were meted out the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification for reemployment in the government service, forfeiture of retirement benefits and cancellation of eligibility.
Morales said the police officers’ motions for reconsideration “deserve scant consideration.”
She said Purisima’s role in the Oplan Exodus, despite his suspension, as well as Napeñas’ participation as a cohort made them liable for usurpation of powers.
Purisima had been liable for usurpation when he was actively involved in the planning stage of Oplan Exodus to take down international terrorist Marwan even though he was suspended from the PNP over a graft investigation involving an anomalous gun courier deal, for which he faces separate charges now.
Napeñas was liable for following Purisima, acting as a cohort and violating the chain of command instead of reporting to the then PNP officer in charge Leonardo Espina.
“Purisima’s active participation and supervision of Oplan Exodus despite the 10 December 2014 preventive suspension order of the Ombudsman and the 16 December 2014 cease and desist order of OIC-PNP Chief Espina both issued against him, violated the PNP chain of command and amounted to usurpation of official functions,” Morales said.
“(Napeñas’) constant reporting and official dealings with Purisima, notwithstanding the latter’s suspension, and sans the knowledge and approval of then-OIC PNP Chief Espina, made him liable as a cohort of Purisima in usurping official functions,” Morales added.
Morales said Napeñas’ plea of leniency on account of his 37 years in the service “cannot be countenanced by (her) office considering that the penalty of dismissal from the service is an indivisible penalty.”
According to Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code, for a person to be liable for usurpation “there must be a clear showing that the person being charged had performed an act pertaining to any person in authority or public officer of the Philippine government, under pretense of official position, and without lawfully being entitled to do so.”
Section 3(a) of the anti-graft law considers as a criminal act a public officer who persuades, induces or influences another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules or regulations.
Morales said the graft indictment against the two stemmed from violations of the anti-graft law after “Purisima wielded his power and influence as Chief PNP, to induce Napeñas, who willingly allowed himself to be so induced, to violate the PNP chain of command.”
“(D)uring the period of Purisima’s suspension, he had no authority to perform the duties and functions, much less supervise and/or participate in the conceptualization, mission planning, and execution of a high risk police operation,” Morales said in her earlier resolution indicting the two for the offenses.
“(I)n short, Purisima was sending the unwritten yet visible message that he was, albeit he was not authorized to act and function as Chief PNP… (I)f Purisima had an iota of respect for the PNP Chain of Command, he should have informed, at the very least, of the details of the Plan Exodus during the turnover of his duties and functions to OIC-PNP Chief Espina,” Morales added.
Napeñas was indicted because his “taking orders from the suspended Purisima… can be construed as an act in agreement to commit the crime of usurpation of official functions with Purisima.”
“[Napeñas’] justification to heed such order—that Purisima was the Commander-in- Chief’s most trusted man and was allowed by the President to participate in the planning and execution of the Oplan—does not lie,” Morales said.
The Ombudsman found probable cause against the two even though it has absolved from accountability outgoing President Benigno Aquino III, who allowed his friend Purisima to participate in the planning of the operation.
Aquino has put the blame on Napeñas for disobeying his orders to coordinate with the military and police about the operation. Meanwhile, he said he was misled by Purisima who disobeyed his orders to coordinate with Espina.
Napeñas had said he did not coordinate with the military for fear it had been compromised.
The Ombudsman said Napeñas’ adherence with the time on target (TOT) concept–or the concept of coordinating with the military only after the elite cops were in the target destination–resulted in heavy casualties because of the delay in coordination.
The TOT also caused Napeñas to bypass the police chain of command and commit usurpation of powers when he coordinated with a suspended police chief instead.
In finding Napeñas guilty of the administrative offense of neglect of duty, Morales said Napeñas’ application of the TOT resulted in disastrous consequences, such as the sidestepping of the ongoing peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), whose fighters were engaged in the firefight with the elite cops. The involvement of the MILF also derailed the prompt passage of the implementing peace deal bill Bangsamoro Basic Law.
“Clearly, in applying the TOT concept of coordination, Napeñas neglected to consider the consequences of the TOT concept vis-a-vis the needed protocols for the Armed Forces of the Philippines to effectively respond… Worse, Napeñas failed to consider the repercussions of Oplan Exodus on the ongoing peace process with the MILF,” the Ombudsman said.
“As it turned out, this crucial aspect of the operation materially contributed to the incurrence of heavy casualties,” it added.
On Jan. 25, 2015, 44 SAF men were slaughtered in a botched antiterror operation to take down international terrorist Zulkfli bin Hir alias Marwan in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao, dubbed by the Ombudsman as “the biggest loss of a government elite force in history.”
So what can you say about this one? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and don’t forget to share this blog post to your family and friends online. And also, visit our website more often for more updates.