Ensign Pestano – Our silent hero

January 28, 2009

Subject: Ensign Pestano- a modern day hero and martyr for the cause of the Free Filipino soldier who gave it all.

There is still no justice on the Pestano incident, although obviously the government had many chances to help him
and family. There will probably be no justice for Ensign under this regime of guns, goons and gold. -ed

from Cidette:

Subject: Philip Pestano Memorial by Fr. James Reuter, S.J.
To: “Cidette ADMU Hosaka” <phosaka@ateneo.edu>
Date:  January 20, 2009, 11:23 PM

Philip Pestano Memorial
Justice at 3 A.M.
by Fr. James B. Reuter, S.J.

*Note: This is the e-mail prayer brigade initiated by Fr. Reuter for Phillip.

Phillip Andrew A. Pestaño graduated from the Ateneo de Manila High School in 1989, entered the Philippine Military Academy, and became an Ensign in the Philippine Navy in 1993. He was assigned as cargo master, on a Navy ship.

He discovered that the cargo being loaded onto his vessel included logs that were cut down illegally, were carried to the ship illegally, and were destined to be sold, illegally. Then there were 50 sacks of flour, which were not flour, but shabu – worth billions. Literally, billions. And there were military weapons which were destined for sale to the Abu Sayyaf.

He felt that he could not approve this cargo. Superior officers came to him and said: “Please! Be reasonable! This is big business. It involves many important people. Approve this cargo.”But Phillip could not, in conscience, sign approval.

Then his parents received two phone calls, saying: “Get your son off that ship! He is going to be killed!” When Phillip was given leave at home, his family begged him not to go back. Their efforts at persuasion continued until his last night at home, when Phillip was already in bed.

His father came to him and said: “Please, son, resign your commission. Give up your m ilitary career. Don’t go back. We want you alive.. If you go back to that ship, it will be the end of you!”But Phillip said to his father: “Kawawa ang bayan!” And he went back to the ship.

The scheduled trip was very brief – from Cavite to Roxas Boulevard – it usually took only 45 minutes. But on September 27, 1995 , it took one hour and a half. When the ship arrived at Roxas Boulevard, Ensign Pestaño was dead.

The body was in his stateroom, with a pistol, and a letter saying that he was committing suicide. The family realized at once that the letter was forged. They tried desperately for justice, carrying the case right up to the Senate.

The Senatorial Investigation Committee examined all the evidence, carefully. Then they issued an official statement, saying among other things: Ensign Phillip Pestaño did not commit suicide. He was murdered. He was shot through the head, somewhere outside of his stateroom, and the body was carried to his room and placed in the bed.

The crime was committed by more than one person. In spite of these findings, by the Senate, the family could not get justice. The case is stillrecorded, by the Navy, as suicide. For 12 years they have been knocking at the doors of those in power, to no avail. Now they realize that they should knock on the door of HIM who said:”Knock, and it shall be opened to you. Ask and you shall receive. Seek, and you shall find.”

So they are asking all of the friends of Phillip from the Ateneo, from the PMA, friends of the family – including the girl he was engaged to marry – to say this prayer:

“LORD, we know that Phillip is safe with YOU, and will be safe forever, because he gave up his life, as YOU gave up YOUR life – for justice. If it is YOUR will, please let the truth be known of his heroic courage and strength and love of country. Let justice be rendered here on earth. But if it is not YOUR will that justice be rendered here, give each of us the grace to live and die as he did – following in YOUR footsteps. And at the last judgment, LORD, when all that is hidden will be known, let Phillip be seen as he really is – a brave young man who gave his life for honesty, truth, and justice.”

* * *

Phillip Pestaño died at the age of 24. He was scheduled to be married in January of 1996, four months after he was murdered.

He was a martyr. A martyr is one who dies for the faith or for a Christian virtue. Phillip died for a Christian virtue – justice. It is not likely that he will ever be canonized, but he takes his place among the Unknown Saints.

Some military men are killed in battle. They are given a hero’s burial. But Phillip died for a much deeper cause – he was trying to preserve the integrity of our Armed Forces. He died out of loyalty to the Philippines, in an effort to keep the oath that he made when he graduated from the Military Academy.

Graft and corruption are the curse of this nation. But when they take root in the heart of our Armed Forces, they threaten our existence as an independent, democratic country.

The family of Phillip Pestaño is doing the right thing. They are turning to GOD. They are praying that justice will be administered here, in our country, in our day. But if this is not GOD’swill, then let us at least try to preserve the ideal of integrity in every mind and heart and soul.

Let’s forward this message to every freedom-loving Pinoy in our list. Thank you.


4 Responses to “Ensign Pestano – Our silent hero”

  1. rockman Says:

    phillip pestano was murdered by????

  2. Dorothy Eleanor Gonzales Says:

    In the eyes of men, justice is not yet served. But God knows every detail of it and whoever did it to Phillip will be held accountable to God with JUSTICE.

  3. jun sapallo Says:

    MANILA, Philippines – When the Ombudsman reversed last week her predecessor’s ruling dismissing the case against 10 Navy officers and charging them with murder in the supposed suicide of Philip Pestano 15 years ago, many hoped such reversal would finally unravel the truth.

    After all, Pestano’s family had maintained all these years the young Navy officer was shot dead–he didn’t shoot himself in the temple as an official report had claimed–because he was going to blow the whistle on contraband being loaded onto navy boats.

    On Wednesday, however, the 10 Navy officers implicated in the case of Pestano, a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1993, turned the tables on the latter’s three classmates and the head of a medical corps for alleged cover-up and tampering of evidence in the alleged suicide of the young officer.

    Pestano’s lifeless body was found on September 27, 1995 inside his cabin aboard the BRP Bacolod City, with a bullet hole in the head.

    In a three-page complaint dated January 23, 2011 lodged before the office of Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Jessie Dellosa, the officers accused Lt. Col. Felix Tayo of the Medical Corps and Cdrs. Joselito De Guzman and Romulo Vigilancia, both classmates of Pestano, of Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman, Conduct Prejudicial to Good Order and Military Discipline, and Conduct Bringing Discredit Upon the Military Service.

    Earlier, in a 21-page decision dated January 10, 2010, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales believed there was “presence of conspiracy” to commit murder against Pestano after reviewing the evidence that led her to overturn the decision of her predecessor, Merceditas Gutierrez, dismissing the murder case filed by Pestano’s parents.

    Morales then ordered the filing of murder charges against Capt. Ricardo Ordonez, Lt. Cdr. Ruben Roque, Petty Officer 1st Class Carlito Amoroso and Petty Officer 2nd Class Mil Leonor Igcasan, all retired; and Commander Reynaldo Lopez and Lt. Cdr. Luidegar Casis, both of PMA Class of 1992; Lt. Cdrs. Alfrederick Alba Joselito Colico, of PMA Class of 1994; Hospital Man 2 Welmenio Aquino; and Machinery Repairman 2 Sandy Miranda, all still in active service.

    Their case landed at the Sandiganbayan 3rd Division.

    On January 24 2012, the officers filed an eight-page motion to quash by contesting some evidence presented in the murder case, particularly the alleged two gunshot wounds that Pestano sustained in the head.

    “There is only one gunshot wound self-inflicted by the deceased. The bullet entered the right temple and exited in the left side of the head. The exit wound is not considered another gunshot wound. This statement in the Information is misleading and deliberately deceiving. Thus, on this score alone, the Information should be quashed and the case should be dismissed,” they averred.

    Ordonez first broke his silence and insisted the Pestano case was suicide and linked his death to a problem about his relationship with women then, especially when one of his girlfriends, Djoanna Grace Yasay, filed an administrative complaint against him before the Philippine Fleet for breach of promise to marry which is punishable under the Articles of War.

    He was then the commander of the BRP Bacolod City.

    The six active officers were held in custody so they can voice out their side in accordance with military rules and regulations.

    As to the complaint they filed before the Office of the Chief of Staff, the officers claimed that Tayo, De Guzman and Vigilancia “willfully and deliberately acted and still continuously act in conspiracy with one another to cover up the real cause of the death of Pestano…” at their expense.

    They claimed that the complaint filed against Pestano could have pestered him as evidently showed by his suicidal tendencies before he committed suicide such as cutting his pulse on the wrist, hallucinating in broad daylight and even sleep-walking.

    “The unbearable problem of Pestano at the time he committed suicide is the administrative complaint filed against him by his first girlfriend because his rich parents, particularly his father, Felipe, also known as Don Pepe, do not approve of her religious beliefs. Pestano, being a dutiful son, obeyed his parents, broke with Ms. Yasay and entered into a relationship with another woman named Joann Doxi-Lim, whom his parents favor,” the officers claimed.

    They claimed Don Pepe allegedly “used influence, money, connections and vast resources” to ventilate the case of his son.

    “He was heard saying that he will not stop until the Navy officers pay with their own lives,” they said.

    “Don Pepe is a contractor/supplier of the Philippine Navy. He is a golfing buddy of ranking military and government officials. The Directors of his company (Philipp Sanctuary) are all Navy officers, namely: Magsino, Viola, Mendoza, Carlos, Togonon, Marcelo, Zuria, Ventura, Mulane and Galutera.”

    Before the alleged suicide, on Sept. 10, the officers claimed Pestano deliberately slashed his wrist “in an attempt to commit suicide.”

    “Two of his (Pestano’s) classmates, Ensigns Joselito De Guzman and Robert Clement Bosch, who were aware of his depressive mood took him from the BRP Bacolod City and brought him to Camp Navarro General Hospital in Southcom (Southern Command). Pestano’s wound was treated and sutured by Lt. Col. Felix Tayo assisted by nurse Mercy Cando. Thereafter he was referred to Lt. Col. Jose Del Rosario, a neuro psychiatrist and psychologist for examination.”

    They said De Guzman and Bosch did not inform Ordonez about Pestano’s medical treatment and neither did Del Rosario; Del Rosario also “did not recommend Pestano’s confinement to the hospital for his suicidal tendencies…”

    Bosch had availed an early retirement and was honorably discharged sometime after the Pestano’s death. He is reportedly living now in the United States.

    As to the possible culpability of Vigilancia, the officers alleged that after the suicide he “boarded the ship [and] took away Pestano’s two pillows which had blood and bone fragments.”

    “These pillows likewise contained illegal drugs belonging to Pestano for his personal use. Pestano confided to Ensign Alvin Parrone that he had taken drugs before going to bed on the night when he was observed to be sleep-walking.”

    Parrone died a year or so after Pestano’s death.

    Ensign Edwin Vigilar, another classmate of Pestano, “was the first person to board the ship and took Pestano’s body to the morgue,” and, “was the one who washed Pestano’s body and scrubbed his hands to remove the gunpowder residue.”

    Vigilar, also availed of early retirement and was honorably discharged from the service, and now reportedly lives in Canada. He is the son of former public works and highways secretary Gregorio Vigilar.

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