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Former Philippines president faces corruption charges

[JURIST] The Philippines Office of the Ombudsman (OTO) [official website] has anti-graft and corruption charges [document images] Tuesday against former Philippines president Benigno Aquino III [Britannica backgrounder] in connection to the Mamasapano battle [Rappler backgrounder], which left 44 elite cops dead following a firefight with Islamic rebel groups.

Earlier this year, the OTO dropped the homicide charges [Inquirer report] brought against Aquino after the battle. However, the prosecution informed Aquino they still intend to hold him liable for the deaths of the 44 officers. Aquino is facing the current charges for allegedly allowing a Philippine National Police chief to play a leading roll in the Mamasapano operation while the chief was on suspension. The prosecution argues that the recklessness of Aquino was the direct cause of the 44 deaths.

Philippines Senator Joel Villanueva [official website] of the Liberal Party [party website] released a statement [text] on behalf of the party:

I think it is legally inappropriate to file a usurpation of authority case against then President Benigno Aquino III for his role in the Mamasapano incident. "Usurpation of authority" is defined as the "performance of an act by a person who knowingly and falsely represents himself to be a government official without being lawfully entitled to do so." As the Commander-in-Chief of the police and armed forces, he had the power and authority to call the police operation, even if ill-fated.
He concluded that he and the party support Aquino as he faces these charges.

The matter has yet to be assigned to a court, but the Sandigabanbayan [official website], a special appellate court, will assign the matter on Friday.

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