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Purisima, Napeñas should face charges

Keith A. Calayag

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Former Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Alan Purisima and former Special Action Forces (SAF) Getulio Napeñas should be tried for usurpation and graft.

Sandiganbayan Chief Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Bayani Jacinto on Thursday shared their opinions on the decision that cleared both Purisima and Napeñas of their charges over their alleged roles in the Oplan Exodus, the anti-terrorist operation that led to the death of 44 elite officers in 2015.

Although Tang, in her concurring and dissenting opinions, said that the former officials are not liable for graft for lack of evidence, but added that they should be tried for usurpation as Purisima supervised the execution of Oplan Exodus while serving a suspension, while Napeñas followed the directives by Purisima.

“Purisima’s active participation and supervision of a police operation under the false pretense of official position but sans the authority to do so amounted to usurpation of official functions. If Purisima had an iota of respect for the PNP Chain of Command, he should have informed, at the very least, of the details of Oplan Exodus during the turnover of his duties and functions to OIC-PNP Chief (Leonardo) Espina,” Tang said.

“That the OIC-PNP Chief and the DILG Secretary were intentionally kept off the loop renders Purisima’s questioned acts more pronounced. His overt acts of actually discharging and performing the powers and functions of the said office are more than enough to establish probable cause for the commission of the crime of usurpation of official functions under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code,” she added.

Associate Justice Bayani Jacinto, a member of the Fourth Division in his dissenting opinion said the facts presented by the prosecution are sufficient to maintain the charges against the two former officials for usurpation, and also for graft.

In dropping the graft cases agains the two, the Sandiganbayan said they could not be tried as it is not established that they received material renumeration from transaction subject of the case, an element that should present under Section 3 (a) of Republic Act 3019.

Jacinto disputed this and cited a Supreme Court ruling saying Section 3 (a) does not necessarily require evidence of material renumeration.

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