The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the filing of usurpation of authority and graft charges against former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and former PNP Special Action Force (SAF) director Getulio Napenas Jr. over the Mamasapano incident.
In a 40-page joint resolution signed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, a graft charge was ordered before the Sandiganbayan for the violation of Section 3(a) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
It was ruled that Purisima had no authority to participate in the planning and deliberations about Oplan Exodus considering that he was under suspension at that time. The Ombudsman said that the ex-PNP chief should have informed then PNP officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina of the details of Oplan Exodus when he turned over his duties and functions to Espina.
“During the period of Purisima’s suspension, he had no authority to perform the duties and functions, much less supervise and/or participate in the conceptualization, mission planning, and execution of a high risk police operation,” the ruling stated.
It can be recalled that Purisima was placed under preventive suspension by the Ombudsman in connection with the alleged anomalous contract of the PNP with a courier service company. Based on the records and evidence obtained by the investigation panel, the planning for Oplan Exodus started during the supposed suspension of Purisima. The Ombudsman dismissed the defense arguing that “there was never any explicit representation“ that Purisima was acting as the Chief PNP during his preventive suspension.
“Purisima wielded his power and influence as Chief PNP, to induce Napenas, who willingly allowed himself to be so induced to violate the PNP chain of command by giving instructions to, receiving recommendations from and approving the actions of Napenas,” The Ombudsman ruled.
The Ombudsman also ruled that there is probable cause to charge Napenas with usurpation of authority for taking orders from the suspended PNP Chief without the knowledge and approval of the then PNP officer-in-charge Espina.
“Taking orders from the suspended Purisima can be construed as an act in agreement to commit the crime of usurpation of official functions with Purisima,” the ruling stated.
The Ombudsman also found probable cause to file administrative cases against both Purisima and Napenas for grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service. As a result of the dismissal of Purisima in June 2015 and the retirement of Napenas in July of the same year, the administrative penalty of fine equivalent to their salary of one year was imposed.
The two were also given penalties of perpetual disqualification for reemployment in government service and forfeiture of retirement benefits.
The Mamasapano incident on January 25, 2015, that left over 60 people dead, sparked outrage and public condemnation when SAF commandos died in a clash with Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and private armed groups during their operation to neutralize the high-profile Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.