Former President Benigno Aquino III on Friday posted bail on cases filed against him over the bloody Mamasapano encounter in January 2015.
Aquino paid P40,000 (US$785) to secure his provisional liberty even as the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has yet to order his arrest.
“Halos pro-forma na pag nag-file ng information, na-determine na ang probable cause, mag-e-execute na ng warrant of arrest,” Aquino said in a news briefing.
“Friday pa ngayon, nag-uusap siguro tayo ngayon ng kulungan eh may karapatan naman ako magpiyansa,” he added
[Translation: It’s also pro-forma that when information is filed and probable cause is determined, we execute a warrant of arrest. It’s a Friday as well so talks of arrest are in the works, but I maintain my right to post bail.]
The former President insisted he is ready to face the court.
“Haharapin namin lahat ‘to, di naman ako umalis. Di ako nagpaospital,” he said.
[Translation: We will face all of this. I didn’t leave the country, I didn’t subject myself to hospitalization.]
Aquino is facing criminal charges for usurpation of authority under the Revised Penal Code and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. The bail is set at P30,000 for graft and P10,000 for usurpation of authority.
His cases were raffled off to the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division on Friday. They will be heard by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, appointed by the former president himself in October 2013.
The Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday filed the charges against Aquino before the Sandiganbayan. These are in connection with the deaths of 44 members of the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Special Action Forces, known as the SAF 44, on January 25, 2015.
The Ombudsman earlier cleared Aquino of any liability, when it charged only Purisima, then SAF Commander Getulio Napeñas Jr., and nine other police officers in July 2015, when Aquino was still in power. In its July 14 decision, the Ombudsman said they were “co-conspirators”.
What Aquino did wrong, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said, was to allow then PNP Chief Alan Purisima to play a major role in the Mamasapano operation despite being under preventive suspension.
The SAF 44 were killed after an encounter with Moro rebels in the town of Mamasapano in Maguindanao, despite a ceasefire.
At least 18 rebels and five civilians were also killed in the botched operation that was meant to capture Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias “Marwan.”
If found guilty, Aquino faces imprisonment of up to 10 years, with perpetual disqualification from public office.
Under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code, any person who shall perform duties of a public officer “without being lawfully entitled to do so, shall suffer the penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods” or six months to six years imprisonment.
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