Appeals Court affirms ruling on trial of Pestaño murder case
MANILA, Philippines–The Court of Appeals (CA) on Friday affirmed its June 2014 ruling allowing the Manila Regional Trial Court to proceed with the trial of the murder case against 10 Navy officers and enlisted personnel linked to the death of Ensign Philip Andrew Pestaño in September 1995.
In a two-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Ramon Bato Jr., the appeals court said the petition filed by accused in the case failed to raise new arguments to warrant the reversal of its June 2014 ruling.
“Acting on the motion for reconsideration…against the resolution of this Court dated June 17, 2014 which denied outright the petition for certiorari on the grounds stated therein, the arguments advanced by the petitioners are the very same arguments in their petition for certiorari, all of which had been duly considered and resolved by the Court. It would be an exercise in futility to be repeating our discussion thereof,” the appeals court said.
Last June, the appeals court ordered the transfer of all the accused from the military custody to the Manila City Jail, saying the court could not find merit to the claim of the navy officers that the lower court committed grave abuse of discretion in ordering their transfer.
The court explained that their order to transfer the accused at the Manila City Jail was in compliance with Republic Act No. 7055, a law that strengthens civilian supremacy over the military by transferring to the civil courts the jurisdiction over certain offenses committed by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Among those charged by the Ombudsman for Pestaño’s death 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.
Records of the case showed that BRP Bacolod City, a Philippine Navy cargo ship, left Tawi-Tawi on September 20, 1995.
After seven days, the ship made a last stop-over in Sangley Point and departed the same day for its final destination, the Navy headquarters in Manila.
Before the ship reached Manila, Pestaño was found dead inside his cabin, lying on the bed with a single gunshot wound on his right temple with a purported suicide note to his family.
Based on the investigation conducted by the Senate and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, it was ruled out that Pestaño committed suicide.
It was also discovered that Pestaño had knowledge of illegal activities in BRP Bacolod City which posed as a possible motive behind his death.
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