A grave injusticeBy Ramon Tulfo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Four officers and two enlisted men are detained at the Philippine Navy camp in Fort Bonifacio for a crime most of their Navy comrades believe they never committed.
The six gave themselves up to their superiors after warrants for their arrest were issued by a Manila court.
They are charged with the murder of Ensign Philip Pestaño (“alleged” should be stressed) in 1995 aboard BRP Bacolod City.
The six are Commander Reynaldo Lopez (Philippine Military Academy Class ’92); Lt. Cmdr. Luidegar Casis (US Coast Guard Academy Class ’92); Lt. Cmdr. Alfrederick Alba (PMA Class ’94); Lt. Cmdr. Joselito Colico (PMA Class ’94); Petty Office 1 Wilmenio Aquino and Petty Officer 1 Sandy Miranda.
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Despite overwhelming evidence that Pestaño, a member of PMA Class ’93, committed suicide, the Office of the Ombudsman still filed the murder case against the six suspects.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and Western Police District (WPD) all ruled out murder and said Pestaño killed himself.
Even the private forensic expert that the victim’s parents hired said the young Navy officer shot himself.
Two weeks before he died, a reportedly despondent Pestaño had slashed his wrist and was confined at the Southern Command (Southcom) Hospital in Zamboanga City.
Found beside his body aboard BRP Bacolod was a suicide note.
The Office of the Ombudsman committed grave injustice when it charged the six Navy officers and enlisted men with conspiring to murder Pestaño.
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Let’s admit for the sake of argument that Pestaño became despondent after he discovered that BRP Bacolod City was carrying illegal drugs and illegal logs—as claimed by his parents—that’s why he slashed his wrist and was ganged upon by his shipmates two weeks later.
Let’s further admit—again, for the sake of argument—that all of Pestaño’s fellow officers and subordinates on that ship were corrupt and allowed illegal drugs and illegal logs to be carried on board.
Didn’t it occur to the investigators at the Office of the Ombudsman that Pestaño’s fellow officers, if they conspired to murder him, could have just thrown him overboard instead of killing him on board the ship?
After throwing him overboard, the “conspirators” could have shot him while he was struggling at sea.
Sharks, which can smell blood for miles, could have feasted on his bloodied body.
The other officers and enlisted men aboard BRP Bacolod could have claimed that Pestaño accidentally fell overboard and was lost at sea.
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Barangay Captain Lino Cayetano, brother of Senators Alan Peter and Pia Cayetano, should resign from his position if he can’t control his subordinates at Barangay Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City.
Noel Bulaay, a taxi driver, complained that he was taken to Cayetano’s barangay hall after he figured in a minor accident involving Cayetano’s van on Edsa in Pasay City.
Bulaay was brought to Barangay Fort Bonifacio, even if the accident happened outside its jurisdiction. He claimed guards and policemen assigned at the barangay handcuffed him, beat him up and took his day’s earnings and P5,000 in cash.
For a minor traffic incident, why should Bulaay be handcuffed and beaten up?
I tried to get Cayetano’s side but his aides said he was too busy.
More from this Column:
- Delfin Lee and charged Navy officers
- Another Montemaria shrine rising in Batangas City
- Two legal minds who seem ignorant of the law
- The healing priest’s rich lifestyle
- Not all convicts are guilty