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Retired Navy officer in Pestaño case maintains innocence

A Navy officer implicated in the 1995 murder of Ensign Philip Andrew Pestaño maintained his innocence Monday, stressing that Pestaño committed suicide and was not killed.

Retired Capt. Ricardo Ordoñez said he is wondering why the case was revived by the Ombudsman when three investigative agencies – the Western Police District (now Manila Police District) , the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group – had already cleared him and nine other Navy officers and men linked to the case.

“We are all innocent of the charge…It is really a suicide. It’s wrong to say that he was killed,” said Ordoñez, the commanding officer of the BRP Bacolod City where Pestaño was assigned as a deck officer and where his body was found on Sept. 27, 1995.

Last week, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales reversed an earlier decision saying that Pestaño, who graduated from the Philippine Military Academy two years before his death, committed suicide, and ordered that the 10 officers be charged with the crime, almost 17 years after the incident.
 
Pestaño’s lifeless body was found in his cabin by his fellow Navy personnel with a gunshot wound in the head while the ship was en route to the Navy headquarters in Manila from Sangley Point in Cavite.
 
Apart from Ordoñez, the other accused in the case are Cdr. Reynaldo Lopez, Lt. Cdr. Luidegar Casis, Lt. Cdr. Alfrederick Alba, Lt. Cdr. Joselito Colico, Hospital Man 2 Welmenio Aquino,  Machinery Repairman 2 Sandy Miranda, Lt. Cdr. Ruben Roque, Petty Officer 1 Carlito Amoroso and Petty Officer 2 Mil Leonor.
 
Lopez, Casis, Alba, Colico, Aquino and Miranda, who are still in the active service, have been relieved and recalled by the Navy leadership to the Navy headquarters so they can face the charges.
 
On the other hand, Ordoñez, Roque, Amoroso and Leonor have either retired from the service or have been subjected to honorable discharge, thus the military no longer has a control over them.

In its 21-page resolution, the Ombudsman said Pestaño was killed because he opposed the use of a Navy vessel to transport illegal lumber for Vice Admiral Pio Carranza, then Flag Officer in Command of the Philippine Navy.
 
Ordoñez, who retired from the service in 2005 upon reaching the retirement age of 56, sought to dispute insinuations that they conspired to kill Pestaño. He said Pestaño committed suicide because of a problem with a woman.

He also denied that they were involved in illegal logging.

“There is no illegal logging there, the lumber have papers. They were intended for the flag officer in command. Is that illegal logging? It may be illegal transport but this is not illegal [logging]. I was cleared by the Ombudsman on this,” Ordoñez said. — KBK, GMA News
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January 16, 2012 7:47pm
GMA News Online
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