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Raps filed vs 3 AFP officers for Pestaño 'cover-up'

A complaint has been filed with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against three military officers for the alleged cover-up on the alleged suicide attempt of Ensign Philip Pestaño, whose death in September 1996 had been earlier ruled as suicide.
 
Pestaño’s death has been earlier ruled as suicide, but the Ombudsman recently ordered the reopening of the case after its investigation revealed that Pestaño was murdered and that his colleagues had conspired to make his death look like a suicide.
 
The complaintants said that had the respondents informed Pestaño’s commanding officer of his earlier suicide attempt, “the second suicide could have been abated and Pestaño would still be alive today.”
 
The three-page complaint was filed by the 10 Navy personnel implicated in the alleged murder of Pestaño, among them retired Navy Capt. Ricardo Ordoñez, former commander of BRP Bacolod City where Pestaño’s body was found on Sept. 27, 1995.
 
Named respondents in the complaint, which was filed before the office of AFP chief Gen. Jessie Dellosa, were Lt. Col. Felix Tayo of the AFP Medical Corps; and Navy commanders Joselito de Guzman and Romulo Vigilancia. De Guzman and Vigilancia were said to be Pestaño’s classmates in Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1993.
 
The complaint was for violations of the Articles of War, specifically conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman, conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline, and conduct bringing discredit upon military service.
 
Cover-up?
 
In their complaint, the complainants alleged that the respondents hid to Ordoñez the fact that Pestaño had attempted to take his own life after his fiancée, Djoanna Yasay, filed an administrative complaint against him.
 
They said this happened on Sept. 10, 1995, or 17 days before Pestaño’s body was found with a fatal gunshot wound in his head.

The complainants alleged that on Sept. 10, 1995, Pestaño was “found with deliberately slashed wrist in an attempt to commit suicide as a consequence of the administrative complaint filed against him by his fiancée Djoanna Yasay."
 
Ordoñez, in an earlier interview, said Yasay filed a complaint against Pestaño before the military for backing out of his promise to marry her.
 
The complaint said De Guzman and another member of PMA Class 1993, Robert Bosch – then a Navy ensign who has since retired from the service – took Pestaño out of the BRP Bacolod City and brought him to the Camp Navarro Hospital in Zamboanga City for treatment.  The ship was then docked at the Zamboanga City pier.

Depressive mood
 
The complainants alleged the Pestaño’s classmates “were aware of his depressive mood” and yet did not inform Ordoñez, his commanding officer, about it.
 
According to the complaint, Pestaño’s wound was sutured by Tayo, after which he was referred to (now retired) Lt. Col. Jose del Rosario, a neuro-psychiatrist and psychologist, for examination.
 
“Del Rosario did not recommend Pestaño’s confinement to the hospital for his suicidal tendencies nor did Del Rosario inform Pestaño’s CO (commanding officer) about it,” a portion of the complaint read.
 
There was also an attempt to cover up Pestaño alleged suicide on Sept. 27, 1995, the complainants accused.
 
They said another classmate of Pestaño, then Ensign Ediwn Vigilar (now also retired from the service), “was the first person to board the ship and took Pestaño’s body to the morgue. Vigilar was the one who washed Pestaño’s body and scrubbed his hands to remove the gunpowder residue.”

Ilegal drugs, sleepwalking
 
The complaint said Vigilancia likewise boarded the ship and “took away Pestaño’s two pillows which has blood and bone fragments.”
 
 “These pillows likewise contained illegal drugs belonging to Pestaño for his personal use,” they added.
 
The complaint alleged that before his death, Pestaño had supposedly confided to one ensign Alvin Parrone (now deceased) “that he had taken drugs before going to bed on the night when he was observed to be sleepwalking.”
 
“Pestaño’s classmates knew from the start that he was suffering from deep depression and wanted to end his life because his problem is unbearable,” the complaint said.
 
“The unbearable problem of Pestaño at the time he committed suicide is the administrative complaint filed by his girlfriend because his parents, particularly his father, Felipe Pestaño, also known as Don Pepe, do not approve of her religious beliefs,” the complaint added.
 
It further said that “the classmates of Pestaño tried desperately to cover up his suicide attempts because they feel that they were not able to stop him from taking his life.”
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 KBK, GMA News
January 25, 2012 6:20pm
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