Former President Benigno Aquino III could be facing trial before the Sandiganbayan soon after the Supreme Court (SC) lifted its halt order on the Mamasapano massacre trial, SC Spokesman Brian Keith Hosaka announced on Wednesday (August 6).
Aquino was earlier charged with graft and usurpation of authority before the Sandiganbayan for his alleged role in the botched police raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao that led to the killing of 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF) by Muslim separatists on January 25, 2015.
Also charged were former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima and former PNP-SAF director Getulio Napeñas Jr. Former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales filed the charges on November 2017, but the SC issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the trial in February 2018 after issues were raised on the nature of the cases filed by the Ombudsman.
Relatives of the slain SAF members, now known as SAF44, informed the SC that they want to charge Aquino with reckless imprudence resulting in homicide instead.
“Upon verification with the Chief Justice, I would like to confirm that the Supreme Court has lifted the TRO on the Mamasapano trial before the Sandiganbayan,” Hosaka announced.
Ombudsman Samuel Martires has already asked the Sandiganbayan to drop the graft and usurpation charges against Aquino, “without prejudice to the filing of appropriate charges against the accused after the conduct of preliminary investigation.”
This is because he also believes that the current cases are weak.
With the lifting of the TRO, the Sandiganbayan can now resolve the petition of Martires.
The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and the Office of the Solicitor General have asked Martires to charge Aquino with multiple homicides, which carries a harsher penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment for each count.