THE Court of Appeals has denied the plea of eight of the 10 Philippine Navy personnel to nullify the arrest warrants issued against them by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila in connection with the 1995 murder of Ensign Philip Pestaño.
In a two-page resolution, the CA held that the petitioners failed to present new arguments that would warrant the reversal of its decision issued on April 29, 2016.
“The court denies the petitioners’ motion for reconsideration absent valid legal basis to modify, reverse, and set aside the decision,” the CA said.
The appellate court did not give merit to the claim of the petitioners that Manila RTC Judge Josefina Siscar committed grave abuse of discretion in directing the issuance of a warrant of arrest against them last July 23, 2013.
“As we stated in the decision of April 29, 2016, the respondent judge based her finding of probable cause and issued the corresponding warrant of arrest after personally examining the records of the case,” the CA stressed.
In its April 29, 2016 decision, the CA did not give credence to the claim of the accused that there was no probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest against them because the evidence of the case shows that the petitioners were not guilty of murder.
Among the Navy personnel issued with arrest warrants were Retired Navy Capt. Ricardo Ordoñez, Cmdr. Reynaldo Lopez, Lt. Cmdr. Luidegar Casis, Lt. Cmdr. Alfrederick Alba, Lt. Cmdr. Joselito Colico, Hospital Man 2 Welmenio Aquino, Machinery Repairman 1st class Sandy Miranda, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Mil Leonor Igcasan.
The CA had earlier affirmed its decision allowing the Manila RTC to proceed with the trial of the murder case field against the Navy officers. It also directed the transfer of the accused Navy officers from the military custody to the Manila City Jail.
Records of the case showed that BRP Bacolod City, a Philippine Navy cargo ship, left Tawi-Tawi on Sept. 20, 1995. After seven days, the ship made a last stopover in Sangley Point and departed the same day for its final destination, the Navy headquarters in Manila.
Before the ship reached Manila, Pestaño was found dead inside his cabin.
Based on the investigation conducted by the Senate and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, it was ruled out that Pestaño committed suicide.