The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld an arrest order against eight of the 10 Philippine Navy personnel charged with the 1995 murder of Ensign Philip Pestaño, junking a motion for reconsideration filed by the accused for lack of merit.
The ruling was penned by Associate Justice Nina Antonio-Valenzuela and concurred in by Associate Justices Manuel Barrios and Agnes Reyes-Carpio.
The Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) had issued an arrest warrant against retired Navy Capt. Ricardo Ordoñez, retired Lt. Cmdr. Ruben Roque, Cmdr. Reynaldo Lopez, Lt. Cmdr. Luidegar Casis, Lt. Cmdr. Alfrederick Alba, Lt. Cmdr. Joselito Colico, Hospital Man 2 Welmeno Aquino, Machinery Repairman 1st Class Sandy Miranda, Police Officer 2 Leonor Igcasan and retired PO1 Carlito Amorsolo.
In the current case, however, Igcasan and Roque were not named petitioners.
The CA ruled that there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of Manila RTC Judge Josefina Siscar when she found probable cause to order the arrest of the accused on July 23, 2013.
It argued that in determining probable cause for issuance of a warrant of arrest, a judge is not yet mandated to review in detail the evidence submitted during preliminary investigation.
Records of the case showed that BRP Bacolod City, a Philippine Navy cargo ship, left Tawi-Tawi province in southern Mindanao on September 20, 1995.
The ship made a last stopover in Sangley Point in Cavite province and shortly departed for its final destination, the Navy headquarters in Manila.
On September 27, 1995, the then -24-year-old Pestaño was found dead inside the cargo ship with a bullet wound in his head.
Navy officials claimed that Pestaño committed suicide.
Pestaño’s parents did not believe that their son killed himself and eventually pressed criminal charges against the officials.
The Office of the Ombudsman ruled that Pestaño was murdered and that there was conspiracy to kill him.
It said the wound sustained by Pestaño did not appear to be self-inflicted.