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Usurpation? EX-DOJ official thinks Ombudsman’s charges vs Aquino won’t fly

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State prosecutors will have to prove that former President Benigno Aquino III persuaded or influenced erstwhile Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima to usurp the authority of police officials in charge of planning the covert Oplan Exodus if he were to go to jail over the Mamasapano tragedy, a former Department of Justice official said.

Former Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano told broadcaster Ted Failon on Monday (July 17) that the charges of graft and usurpation of authority filed against Aquino were weak due to the scarcity of evidence that would directly link him to the deaths of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers.

In an interview over dzMM radio, Justiniano said only the people present at the meetings for planning “Oplan Exodus” could testify whether or not Aquino persuaded Purisima, who was then suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman on graft cases, to usurp the authority of the police officials in charge of the mission.

“Ang question ngayon, ano ang ebisensya na pinersuade ni President Aquino si Purisima na gumawa ng ganoon, ‘yung mag-usurp ng authority, kung meron man? Ano ang ebidensya na in-induce niya? Ano ang ebidensya na inimpluwensiyahan niya?” he asked.

Justiniano said state prosecutors will have to go through the eye of a needle to prove Aquino is guilty of the charges that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales plans to file against him.

“E paano mo i-pro-prove na flawed or palpak ‘yung plano? Kailangan ma-prove mo ‘yon. Sino ang mag-te-testify kung palpak ‘yung plano na ‘yan?” he asked.

“Pero napakahirap, uulitin ko sa’yo, Ted,” Justiniano added.

groups in Mamasapano while attempting to serve an arrest warrant for wanted foreign terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.

In a resolution dated last June, Morales said should be held criminally liable for the tragedy because he allowed Purisima, who was then suspended, to take part in the planning and running of the operation.

Aquino’s camp said he plans to appeal the Ombudsman’s decision.