“We have information that Merceditas Gutierrez already had a prepared draft dismissing with finality the complaint filed by our clients against the suspects thus denying the motion for reconsideration we filed on their behalf ,” said lawyer Harry Roque. “It’s a good thing Gutierrez resigned from office after she was impeached.”
Roque added: “When former justice Conchita Carpio-Morales took over at the Ombudsman, she immediately made a review of all the big cases Gutierrez had placed on the back burner. This case shows that sometimes it only takes the appointment of the right person to the right position to turn things around.”
He challenged the Philippine Navy to take the opportunity to correct the egregious harm it has perpetuated for many years against the family of the slain Navy officer by cooperating with prosecutors in bringing its officers charged by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales before the Sandiganbayan for murder to the bars of justice.
The Pestanos have accused the Philippine Navy of white-washing the case and making it appear that their beloved son committed a suicide just before his blood-soaked body was found in his stateroom at the cargo ship BRP Bacolod City on September 27, 1995. A suicide letter was also found near the body of Phillip Andrew Pestaño, then a Navy Ensign.
His family however rejected the suicide theory, pointing to many forensic evidence that told a different story. The Navy Ensign’s father Pepe also revealed that earlier, his son had confided to him about the illegal activities that has been happening on his ship and his plan to blew the whistle on his superiors responsible for these.
He praised the slain Navy officer’s family for having kept their faith through the long years of struggle for justice.
Roque noted that the Philippine Senate opened an investigation on the case after an investigate report written by two reporters – Romel Bagares and Jerry Botial – was published by the Philippine Star. The report revealed that the BRP Bacolod City was being used by Navy superiors for illegal logging and drug trafficking. The Senate would later on issue a joint committee report that blasted the suicide theory to smithereens.
“One of the two reporters , Romel Bagares, later on became a lawyer. In fact, he works as a senior associate in my office and it was he who was approached by the Pestaños to help in the case before the Ombudsman.”
Charged for murder 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.
Roque said some of the accused in the 16-year old murder case are still in active service.
He said: “We have information that Commander Reynaldo Lopez is now serving as Executive Officer of the Philippine Navy’s newest fighting ship, a decommissioned US Coastguard cutter renamed BRP Gregorio Del Pilar.
Ordonez has since retired from the Navy; Alba and Casis are still on active duty but we do not know where they are currently assigned. Ruben Roque has left the Navy – we suspect, at the behest of its top-brass – and is now living somewhere in the United States. Colico has gone AWOL and hasn’t been heard from. Amoroso, whom the family suspected to be the triggerman in the case, has also allegedly died a few years ago under suspicious circumstances. As for the others we have no information about them.”
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