It was worth the waiting and a lot of prayers for divine intervention.
Felipe and Evelyn Pestaño, the parents of the late Philippine Navy Ensign Philip Pestaño, finally got the justice they wanted for their murdered son after 16 long, miserable years, and even when their case was dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman during the Arroyo administration citing the evidence was circumstantial.
It was poetic justice, if you may, that started showing glimpses of the truth when former Ombudsman Merciditas Gutierrez timely resigned before getting impeached and replaced by former SC Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales, and the appearance of Fr. Efren “Momoy” Borromeo, a healing priest, in the lives of the navy officer’s parents.
But, that is getting ahead of the story.
It may be recalled that on September 27, 1995, Pestaño, 24-year-old then, was found dead inside the Philippine Navy cargo ship BRP Bacolod City several miles before it docked at its headquarters in Roxas Boulevard in Manila. He had a bullet wound in his head.
The Philippine Navy claimed that Pestaño committed suicide but his parents refused to believe that their son killed himself and filed charges against the navy officials.
The circumstances surrounding Pestaño’s death also triggered the Senate to conduct an investigation by which the upper house concluded that Pestaño was murdered. But this finding was just swept under the rug by Gutierrez and dismissed for that matter.
This, however, did not deter the Pestaños from filing a motion for reconsideration, which Ombudsman Morales approved and subsequently reversed the earlier ruling dismissing the murder case against the respondents.
The Office of the Ombudsman instead ruled that there was conspiracy to murder Ensign Philip Andrew Pestaño who was found dead inside a Navy cargo ship in 1995.
In the latest order, Ombudsman Morales said the circumstances surrounding the young officer’s death belied the earlier finding that he had committed suicide. His wounds did not appear self-inflicted, she said.
Pestaño reportedly discovered that the cargo loaded in the ship were illegally cut logs and some 50 sacks of shabu passed off as flour.
Pestaño reportedly refused to sign on to approve the cargo despite the pleadings of superior officers.
“The accused conspired, confederated and mutually helped each other, with intent to kill and with the use of firearm: a .45 caliber pistol, and with the attendant qualifying circumstance of evident premeditation, did there and then willfully, unlawfully and feloniously shoot and kill Ensign Philip Andrew Pestaño.”
Pestaño graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in 1989. In 1993, he became an ensign in the Philippine Navy and was assigned as a cargo master on a Navy ship.
The Office of the Ombudsman filed a murder case against Navy Captain Ricardo Ordoñez and nine other naval officials for murder.
(For a more interesting insight of the Pestaño murder case relative to the appearance of Fr. Efren “Momoy” Borromeo, the healing priest, in the lives of Felipe and Evelyn Pestaño, please go to this link: http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/20999/he-sees-dead-people-%E2%80%93-and-they-confess-to-him.)