The Navy has relieved from their posts six of 10 officers ordered charged with murder by the Ombudsman in connection with the death of Ens. Philip Pestaño 16 years ago.

Navy chief Vice Adm. Alexander Pama ordered Cdr. Reynaldo Lopez, Lt. Cdr. Luidegar Casis, Lt. Cdr. Alfrederick Alba, Lt. Cdr. Joselito Colico, HM2 Welmenio Aquino, and MR2 Sandy Miranda recalled from their units.

Of the 10 accused, only the six remain active in the military service, Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Omar Tonsay said.

Captain Ricardo Ordoñez, Lt. Cdr. Ruben Roque, and PO2 Mil Igcasan Leonor retired in Dec. 2005, Dec. 1995, and Sept. 2011, respectively, while PO1 Carlito Amoroso was “honorably discharged” in Dec. 1999.

Lopez, the highest-ranking suspect still in service, is presently assigned as executive officer or EX-O of PF-15, popularly known as the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, which is now patrolling the West Philippine Sea.

The relief may be followed with dismissal from service, which the Ombudsman had recommended.

“They will be reassigned to a holding station… We will recommend immediately that they be dismissed (from service) based on the orders issued by the Ombudsman,” Tonsay told reporters.

The Navy cannot dismiss “commissioned officers” because Malacañang appointed them, he explained.

Pestaño was found dead with bullet wounds on the head in his cabin on the BRP Bacolod City on Sept. 27, 1995.

An alleged suicide note was also found, but Pestaño’s parents refused to believe that the 24-year-old killed himself and filed charges against the Navy officers.

Pestaño reportedly objected to the ship being used to transport illegally-cut logs and methamphetamine hydrochloride or “shabu.”

The Ombudsman, headed by Merceditas Gutierrez in 2009, dismissed the charges against the Navy officers.

The anit-graft body, now led by Conchita Carpio Morales, granted on January 10 a motion for reconsideration filed by Pestaños. (John Roson)

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