Thursday, January 12, 2012

News Update Ombudsman files charges vs. 10 Navy officers for 1995 Pestaño killing

Ten retired and active Philippine Navy officers were charged on Wednesday with murder for allegedly having a hand in the death of Ensign Philip Andrew Pestaño in 1995. Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales reversed an earlier decision saying that Pestaño committed suicide, and ordered on Tuesday that the officers be charged with the crime, almost 17 years after the incident. Charged were: Navy Capt. Ricardo Ordoñez Commander Reynaldo Lopez Commander Alfrederick Alba, Lt. Commander Luidegar Casis Lt. Commander Joselito Colico Lt. Commander Ruben Roque Machinery Repairman 2nd Class Sandy Miranda Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Welmenio Aquino Petty Officer 1st Class Carlito Amoroso and Petty Officer 2nd Class Mil Leonor Y. Igacasan.Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Omar Tonsay refused to comment on the case until he and other officials receive a copy of the Ombudsman’s decision. In its 21-page resolution, the Ombudsman said Pestaño was killed because he opposed the use of a Navy vessel to transport illegal lumber for Vice Admiral Pio Carranza, then Flag Officer in Command of the Philippine Navy. “The totality of circumstances before, during and after the ‘discovery’ of the death of Philip (Pestaño) prima facie points that respondents conspired to kill him. And the attempt to cover it up solidifies the prima facie conclusion that respondents committed a premeditated act to and did kill him, hence, probable cause for murder lies against them,” the resolution read. The Ombudsman cited some details on Pestaño’s death — the bullet entry point, the absence of blood splatters on the wall of the place where Pestaño was found dead, and the trajectory of the bullet — to support the claim that the Navy officer was murdered. The was a glaring inconsistency about Pestaño’s gunshot wounds, the Ombudsman noted. The second paragraph of the resolution said Pestaño was found “lying on the bed inside his cabin with a single gunshot wound on his right temple…” but on page 3 of the information, the victim was supposedly killed by “two (2) large gunshot wounds in the head.” The Ombudsman questioned the fact that the vessel carrying Pestaño took two hours to reach the Navy headquarters in Manila from Sangley Point, Cavite — a trip that usually takes only 45 minutes. “The unexplained delay of about one hour and 15 minutes raises the presumption that the prolonged trip was occasioned by the time it took respondents to create the suicide scenario,” the resolution read. — With Andreo Calonzo/VS