CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 9 December 2017

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Aquino charged with overstepping mark

MANILA (SE): The former president of The Philippines, Noynoy Aquino, was charged on November 8 in the anti-graft court in Manila with overstepping the mark in giving the go ahead to a suspiciously botched security operation in Mamasapano in the lawless province of Maguindanao.
 
He is being charged with graft, usurping official function and allowing a suspended police chief, Alan Purisima, to take part in the operation on 25 January 2015.
 
Aquino was released on 80,000 pesos ($12,500) bail.
 
Rappler.com reported he had appealed to have the charges dropped, but the Ombudsman, Conchita Morales, refused.
 
She has also denied an appeal being made to file charges against the former president by the 44 families of the Special Action Force personnel that died when their brigade was caught in an ambush by rebel forces.
 
They are represented by Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, which is now seeking to impeach Morales, as it wants Aquino to be charged with imprudence resulting in multiple homicide, rather than acting in conspiracy with the suspended police chief for his part in what is widely believed to have been an illegal operation.
 
The official death toll is 44, although other estimates put the all-up figure at 64, with all but a handful police.
 
PhilStar reported that the Ombudsman’s Office also rejected an appeal to have the charges dropped, saying, “After a considered evaluation of the arguments raised by the movants vis-a-vis the evidence on record, the Office finds no cogent reason to reverse or modify the assailed resolution.”
 
The whole affair was treated with suspicion from day one, with CBCP News reporting Father Jun Mercado as saying at the time that the Philippine Special Action Force was under the command of a military adviser from the United States of America (US).
 
He added there was no coordination with other units because the Americans did not want it for fear of a breach of confidentiality.
 
He believes that US forces with Getulio Napeñas at the command post in Sharif Aguak clearly shows that the hand of the US was in the operation, adding that it also used drones.
 
“This is not only direct intervention of the US, but also reveals that our security forces are actually adjunct to the US interest,” Father Mercado said at the time.
 
While the report cannot be verified, it is feasible, as the US had a US$6 million ($46.5 million) bounty on the head of Zulkifli bin Hir, who was killed in the operation, and a Senate hearing was told that the US not only controlled the operation, but financed it as well, even providing the basic training and planning.

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