Dec 052014
The Court of Appeals has affirmed its earlier decision allowing a Manila court to continue hearing the murder case against 10 Navy officers and enlisted personnel accused in the death of Ensign Philip Andrew Pestaño in September 1995.

In a two-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Ramon Bato Jr, the CA’s former Seventeenth Division denied a motion for reconsideration filed by the accused seeking to reverse a June 17 ruling of the CA siding with the Manila Regional Trial Court.

“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,” the CA said.

“It would be an exercise in futility to be repeating our discussion thereof,” it added.

Pestaño was found dead aboard the BRP Bacolod City docked off Manila in 1995. While a supposed suicide note was found on his body, his family suspected foul play.

The ensign’s father Felipe claimed his son had discovered the BRP Bacolod was supposedly used to deliver illegal drugs, logs and firearms.

In its original petition with the CA, the accused soldiers claimed the Manila RTC committed grave abuse of discretion and violated their constitutional right to due process and liberty when it denied their motion to quash the murder case filed against them by the Office of the Ombudsman.

In its June 17 resolution, the CA denied the Navy officers’ plea, saying the Manila court did not abuse its discretion.

Apart from ordering the trial to continue, the CA also directed the transfer of the accused Navy officers from the military custody to the Manila City Jail.

The CA said the transfer of the accused to the Manila City Jail was in compliance with Republic Act No. 7055, which 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.

Earlier, the CA has already affirmed  with finality its decision that upheld the order of the  Ombudsman dismissing the accused from the service.

Among those charged for Pestano’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.

The CA ruling came on the heels of the appearance of the first ever witness in 20 years to come forward and shed light on Pestano’s death.

Technical Sergeant Dionisio Samiran, who headed an investigation team that probed Pestaño’s death, had said that Amoroso had admitted that he was the one who shot Pestaño.  — KBK, GMA News

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