Sandiganbayan junks murder case over Pestaño death-A A +A
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
THE Sandiganbayan Third Division junked Tuesday the murder charges filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against former and active Philippine Navy officers for the death of Ensign Philip Andrew Pestaño in 1995.
The anti-graft court granted the defendants' petition to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction.
Pestaño was found dead aboard the Navy ship BRP Bacolod City in 1995.
The Navy ruled his death a suicide but his parents claim he was killed for threatening to expose the involvement of Navy officials in illegal activities.
In a 13-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Alex Quiroz with presiding Justice Franciso Villaruz Jr. and Associate Justice Samuel Martires concurring, the Sandiganbayan noted that none of the 10 defendants held the rank of Captain or higher at the time of the alleged commission of the crime.
Under Section 4 of Republic Act 8249, the law that created the Sandiganbayan, the court shall exercise jurisdiction over "Philippine army and air force colonels, naval captains, and all officers of higher rank."
The court noted that Ricardo Ordoñez, the highest-ranking among the accused Navy officers, was only a Lieutenant Commander when the alleged crime was committed.
"As he was then occupying a position two levels lower than that of naval captain, he does not fall within the rank requirement within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan," it said.
The Sandiganbayan clarified, however, that the case was "dismissed without prejudice to the filing of the case in the proper court."
With the dismissal of murder charges, the hold departure order against the defendants is effectively lifted.
Aside from Ordoñez, also indicted in the Pestaño case are commanders Reynaldo Lopez and Alfrederick Alba; Lieutenant Commanders Luidegar Casis, Joselito Colico and 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 Igacasan. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)