Sandiganbayan acquits Purisima, Napeñas of graft, usurpation of authority over 2015 Mamasapano operation

(Eagle News)-The Sandiganbayan has acquitted former Philippine National Police Chief Alan Purisima and ex-Special Action Force chief Getulio Napeñas of graft and usurpation charges over the Mamasapano operation in 2015.

In acquitting Purisima of graft, the anti-graft court noted that prosecutors were unable to allege he received or expected to receive any material remuneration or consideration in what was alleged as his influence of then-President Benigno Aquino III.

It was Aquino who tapped Purisima, who was then suspended by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales for his alleged   involvement in a purported anomalous contract with courier firm Werfast, to lead the botched operation aimed at neutralizing terrorists Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan and Basit Usman in Maguindanao.

Forty-four SAF commandos were, however, killed after they clashed with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in the area.

Marwan was killed in the operation while Usman was killed in a subsequent operation.

The court already acquitted Aquino of all charges in relation to the incident.

According to the Sandiganbayan, Purisima could not be charged with usurpation of authority either because “there was no pretense of official function” considering it was Aquino, then the President, who ordered him to supervise the operation.

“Since President Aquino could not have committed the crime of usurpation of official functions therein, accused Purisima could not have been under the pretense of official function in following President Aquino’s orders,” the Sandiganbayan said.

As a result, the  anti-graft court added the “inescapable conclusion is that accused Napeñas did not conspire with them in committing the said crime.”

Napeñas could also not be held for graft since the prosecution failed to allege and establish he received or expected to receive any material remuneration or consideration in following Purisima’s orders, the Sandiganbayan said.