MANILA, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- The ombudsman of the Philippines said on Thursday he has denied the request of former President Benigno Aquino III to clear him of any liability in the so-called Mamasapano massacre that resulted in the death of 44 police commandos in 2015.
The ombudsman affirmed his indictment of Aquino, which was filed in July for usurpation authority and violation of graft and corrupt practices over his alleged involvement in the tragedy.
In a resolution approved this week, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales rejected Aquino's motion to reconsider the ombudsman's earlier decision. Aquino has argued in his appeal that his indictment was a "misappreciation of facts and specious application of the law" and therefore warrants the outright dismissal of the complaint against him.
But the ombudsman insisted Aquino was given the opportunity "to adequately address and refute the charges" against him and added that the former leader was "accorded the opportunity to be heard during conduct of (the) preliminary investigation."
"In sum, the finding of probable cause against (Aquino) in relation to his participation in the violation of Article 177 of the revised Penal Code (Usurpation of Official Functions) and Section 3(a) of (Republic Act) No. 3019 stands," the consolidated ombudsman order read.
Aquino's spokesman, Abigail Valte, said Aquino will meet with his legal team to discuss the ombudsman's latest order.
The ombudsman of the Philippines is responsible for investigating and prosecuting Philippine government officials accused of crimes, especially graft and corruption.
Also in July, the ombudsman ordered criminal charges against Aquino's co-conspirators--former Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Alan Purisima and PNP Director Getulio Napenas of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF).
The charges stemmed from an incident that broke out on Jan. 24, 2015 when almost 400 highly trained commandos belonging to the elite SAF unilaterally launched operation "plan exodus" to serve standing warrants of arrest against international wanted terrorists in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in the southern Philippines.
The operation alarmed local Islamic rebel groups. In the ensuing firefight between armed rebels and outnumbered SAF members that lasted several hours, 44 SAF troopers were killed in the line of duty.
Purisima had been placed by the office of the ombudsman under preventive suspension at that time for anomalous Werfest deal, the resolution noted, referring to a deal forged between a courier company and the PNP's Firearms and Explosives Office.
Ombudsman Morales said that "certainly a public officer who is under preventive suspension is barred from performing any public functions and from meddling into the affairs of the government."
The resolution said that the ombudsman established probable cause that, with the complicity and influence of Aquino, the order of preventive suspension issued by the ombudsman was violated.