Felicitas Nacino, mother of slain PO2 Nicky Nacino, breaks down as she urges Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales not to be “selective.” Photo: Vince F. Nonato.
“The SAF 44 were there due to the defective orders of a defective President, Respondent Aquino. He is thus the proximate cause [of their deaths].”
This was the argument of the relatives of the Special Action Forces commandos killed in the Jan. 25, 2015 Mamasapano clash, as they appealed the Ombudsman’s dismissal of the reckless imprudence complaint against former President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.
The bereaved relatives, together with the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, appealed on Wednesday the July 14 resolution, which approved Aquino’s indictment only for graft and usurpation of authority without directly holding him liable for the deaths.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales only found basis to charge Aquino for allowing his close friend, then-Philippine National Police Director-General Alan Purisima, to take the reins of the so-called Oplan Exodus, despite being suspended at the time pending a graft investigation.
In a 15-page motion for reconsideration, the complainants insisted there was probable cause to pursue charges for 44 counts of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, which could carry a penalty totaling 176 years’ imprisonment.
The complainants disagreed with the Ombudsman’s finding that the “proximate legal cause” of the SAF’s deaths was the “intentional act of shooting by hostile forces.”
It explained that “proximate cause” refers to the first act that set off a chain of events that eventually resulted in the deaths.
“Who put the SAF 44 in the line of fire that made them easy targets for the guns of the hostile forces? Definitely not the MILF, the BIFF and the PAGs,” the appeal stated.
The complainants maintained that his alleged negligence is the true proximate cause of the deaths, citing the serious flaws that attended Oplan Exodus and the vital role delegated to the suspended police chief.
They also cited the failure to send reinforcements and aid while they were besieged by the armed men from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, splinter offshoot Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and various private armed groups.
For them, Aquino’s choice to entrust the operation to his suspended friend was “illegal and improper and smacks of criminal and inexcusable negligence.”
The appellants reminded the Ombudsman that the shooting of the SAF 44 are deliberate acts of murder or homicide which are totally different from the offense of reckless imprudence.
Calling the Ombudsman resolution “bizarre,” the complainants said: “This is like saying that in a motor vehicle accident, the proximate cause of the death of a pedestrian is the hitting of his body by the vehicle.”
It also rhetorically painted a scenario where a bus operator (Aquino) chooses a driver whose license has been suspended for having glaucoma and arthritis (Purisima), and the mechanic (SAF commander Getulio Napeñas Jr.) picks out a defective bus.
“The bus falls into a ravine due to the incompetence of the driver and the bad condition of the bus. As the passengers lie bleeding, the driver asks for medical assistance from the operator, but he demurs; thus all 44 die,” the appeal read. “Are the operator, driver and mechanic not to blame for their deaths?”
The motion for reconsideration ended with a cartoon showing a rifle stuck in the soil, with the words “waiting for justice” hovering above.
The appeal was signed by Telly Sumbilla of Eastern Samar, Felicitas Nacino of Baguio City, Victoria Kiangan of Benguet and Julie Danao of Baguio City, as well as VACC founding chairman Dante Jimenez and spokesperson Arsenio Evangelista.
For the mother of PO3 John Lloyd Sumbilla, the Ombudsman’s move to indict Aquino’s indictment at all felt like a “consuelo de bobo (fool’s consolation).”
The mother of PO2 Nicky Nacino Jr., went emotional and exclaimed: “Ombudsman, please be fair! Show us true justice for our sons. Do not be selective! Listen to our pleas!”
The VACC found ulterior motive in the Ombudsman’s move and said they suspect the indictment for the less severe offenses was just for show.
Echoing the observation of President Duterte in his Monday speech, VACC legal counsel Ferdinand Topacio said Morales intentionally greenlighted a flimsy case “knowing they are bound to fail.”
VACC founding chairman Jimenez said: “It is too obvious to the bone that Ombudsman Morales has become a biased Ombudsman and justice here is selective,”
“This might be a setup. With all due respect to the Ombudsman, we don’t respect her anymore,” Topacio said. “This will be some pretension that they are going through the motions, but this is so easy to defend against.”
Meanwhile, sources confirmed that Aquino also beat the Wednesday deadline to file his motion for reconsideration. However, his camp has yet to release the appeal to the media as of press time. #