Pestaño family's search for justice continues

report from Alex Santos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 12 2012 09:01 PM | Updated as of Jan 13 2012 05:01 AM

Navy Ensign Philip Pestaño's father.
MANILA, Philippines - Felipe Pestaño felt as if a huge weight was lifted off his shoulders when the Ombudsman filed murder charges against 10 active and retired Navy personnel for the death of his son, Navy Ensign Philip Pestaño.

Philip was found dead with a gunshot to the head aboard the BRP Bacolod City in September 1995.

A supposed suicide note was found, but Philip's parents refuse to believe he took his own life.

For the last 16 years, they have been trying to find justice for their son.

In 2009, then-Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez dismissed the case against Navy officers.

Now, Philip's parents are again hopeful justice will finally be served.

Philip's mother, Evelyn, can't help but shed tears whenever she remembers him.

They have a memorabilia room for Philip, which includes a pillowcase he was lying on when he was found dead in his cabin.

Evelyn said Philip was silenced because he tried to expose that the BRP Bacolod City was carrying illegally cut logs and shabu.

The Ombudsman said there is enough evidence against the 10 suspects, and they must be dismissed from service due to grave misconduct.

"There is a prima facie case for murder against the respondents," Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said.

The accused in the Pestaño case:

1. Capt Ricardo Ordonez - retired Dec. 26, 2005
2. CDR Reynaldo Lopez - active
3. LCDR Luidegar Casis - active
4. LCDR Alfrederick Alba - active
5. LCDR Joselito Colico- active
6. LCDR Ruben Roque - retired Dec. 12, 1997
7. HM2 Welmenio Aquino - active
8. MR2 Sandy Miranda - active
9. PO1 Carlito Amoroso - resigned from service Dec. 19, 1999
10. PO2 Leonor Igcasan - retired Sept. 19, 2011

Six of the accused remain on active duty. The Philippine Navy has relieved them from their posts.

Three have already retired, while one has resigned.

Philip's father made this appeal to the suspects.

"Alam kong 'Little Indians' lang sila, better tell sino ang utak," he said.

The Pestaño family said if Armed Forces officials still insist Philip committed suicide, they will be forced to have his remains removed from the Libingan ng mga Bayani.