ON TARGET

Wrongly charged

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Since they were placed behind bars, I have made two visits to the six Navy officers and enlisted men who are charged with murder: Last Sunday and the Sunday before that.

One of the accused, Cmdr. Reynaldo Lopez (Philippine Military Academy Class ’92), is a friend.

I have been told that my visits to the murder respondents may be detrimental to their interest since I am critical of Mr. Aquino’s administration and a perceived basher of the military and police.

I’ve been told by well-meaning friends to stop writing in defense of the accused because they might sink deeper into the quicksand they’re mired in.

But I can’t help it since I am sure that the death of Ensign Philip Pestaño in 1995 aboard the BRP Bacolod City was a suicide.

I just can’t keep quiet when innocent men are wrongly accused.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales filed the murder case against Lopez and his coaccused—Cmdr. Luidegar Casis, Cmdr. Alfrederick Alba, Lt. Cmdr. Joselito Colico; and Petty Officers I Wilmenio Aquino and Sandy Miranda—despite overwhelming evidence that Pestaño killed himself.

In the March 6 On Target column, I said that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and Western Police District (WPD) all concluded that Pestaño killed himself.

I also said that the private forensic expert, Dr. Raquel del Rosario-Fortun, whom the suicide victim’s parents hired, also ruled out foul play.

My deep admiration for Dr. Fortun for not succumbing to the pressures from Pestaño’s parents.

If Morales’ basis for the filing of the murder case were the findings of the Senate committees on justice and human rights, and defense and national security that Pestaño’s death was caused by foul play, then she’s just like the senators-pseudo investigators.

How could those committees have determined that Pestaño was murdered when their members are not expert investigators unlike those from the NBI, CIDG and WPD?

Since when has the Senate become a criminal investigation agency?

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