MANILA - Eight Navy officers accused of involvement in the 1995 killing of Ensign Philip Pestaño pleaded not guilty to murder charges before the Manila regional trial court (RTC) yesterday.
The accused are Commanders Reynaldo Lopez, Luidegar Casis and Alfrederick Alba; Lt. Commander Joselito Colico; retired Lt. Commander Ricardo Ordonez; Hospital Man First Class Welmenio Aquino; Machinery Repair First Class Sandy Miranda, and retired Petty Officer 2 Mil Leonor Igacasan.
They did not grant any interview when they appeared before Branch 6 Judge Jansen Rodriguez.
Accompanying them were their lawyers Jay de Guzman and Ana Luz Cristal.
Pestaño’s parents and their lawyers, former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Eirene Aguila, were also in court.
The court will decide on the accused’s bail petition during the next hearings on Oct. 27, Nov. 13 and 20.
Two other accused, Lt. Commander Ruben Roque and Petty Officer First Class Carlito Amoroso remain at large.
It was learned that Roque had already left the country even before the case was filed.
Amoroso was included in the bail petition, although he is still at large.
Pestaño was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head inside his cabin on board the Navy cargo ship BRP Bacolod in September 1995.
Early reports said he committed suicide, but his family believed he was murdered.
Pestaño reportedly discovered that the Bacolod was carrying illegal logs.
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