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Sandiganbayan has 'no jurisdiction over us', say accused in Ensign Pestaño slay

Ten Philippine Navy officers accused of the 1995 murder of Ensign Philip Andrew Pestaño challenged the case the Office of the Ombudsman filed before the Sandiganbayan by arguing that the anti-graft court has no jurisdiction over them.
 
Last Jan. 11, the Ombudsman filed murder charges against Navy Captain Ricardo Ordoñez, Cdr. Reynaldo Lopez, HM2 Welmenio Aquino, LCdr. Luidegar Casis, LCdr. Alfrederick Alba, MR2 Sandy Miranda, LCdr. Joselito Colico, LCdr. Ruben Roque, Petty Officer 1st Class Carlito Amoroso, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Mil Leonor Igcasan.

The respondents were also deemed administratively liable for grave misconduct and ordered them dismissed from service.

The 10 accused Navy officers said in a motion their lawyers filed before the Sandiganbayan that the court and the Ombudsman have no jurisdiction over them because at the time of the alleged murder of Pestaño they did not possess the rank that would qualify them as officers the Ombudsman can charge before the Sandiganbayan.
 
Republic Act (RA) No. 8249, also known as the Sandiganbayan Law, provides that the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over “Philippine army and air force colonels, naval captains, and all officers of higher rank.”
 
Defense lawyers Ana Luz B. Cristal and Donnabel Cristal Tenorio said the court cannot try Ordoñez because he retired in December 2005 and is no longer a public official. They said Ordoñez was a lieutenant commander at the time of Pestaño’s death.

Ombudsman investigators said Pestaño was killed because of his opposition to the use of the Navy vessel, BRP Bacolod City, for the transport of hot lumber purportedly intended for then Vice Admiral Pio Carranza, PN Flag-Officer-in-Command.
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 ELR/KG, GMA News
January 24, 2012 9:15pm
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