This is a reaction to Aquilino Pimentel Jr.’s comment on Tulfo’s “Closing the book on Pestaño case” (Inquirer, 11/22/12). Ensign Philip Pestaño did slash his wrist. He lied when he said he had accidentally injured his wrist in making an ashtray from a Coke tin can. If it were accidental, the most logical part that would be hit would have been his fingers or his palm, but definitely not his wrist.
Philip was brought by his classmates to Southcom Hospital in Zamboanga City for slashing his wrist due to depression. Philip was treated by Lt. Col. Felix Tayo (who was assisted by Mercy Cando) and referred to Lt. Col. Jose del Rosario, a neuropsychiatrist, for examination. To conceal the suicide incident, his classmates tore the pages of the ship’s gangway logbook which showed the entry that they took Philip and brought him to the Southcom Hospital. They made an admission to tearing those pages before Vice Admiral Alex Pama and Rear Admiral Rex Robles, who were then the case officers. This never surfaced in the 15 or so years because of the coverups done by the classmates. When we learned about their admission, we filed complaints with the AFP Provost Marshal against those responsible for the coverups.
The late Ensign Alvin Parrone executed in 1995 an affidavit attesting that Philip was into drugs. Parrone’s sisters, Constancia and Sarah, were eager to testify on the issue at the Senate hearing, but were surprisingly barred as the proceedings were controlled by the Pestaños and Pimentel, their legal counsel. My wife was not also able to testify to tell her real-life experience of being saluted by a trembling Ensign Pestaño sometime in 1995.
I think the reports reaching the gullible Pimentel are gossips coming from lawyer Rommel Bagares’ fabricated 1997 naval intelligence report. It would be stupid for me to distribute ammunitions to certain rebel groups in Mindanao within sight and hearing distance of five other cavaliers and crew members. About five or more personnel (who are unknown to everyone) are assigned by naval intelligence to report all irregularities committed aboard a ship.
In one of the Senate hearings, Sen. Marcelo Fernan asked Don Pepe Pestaño to furnish Eliodoro Constantino, the NBI document examiner, with the standards used by P/Insp. Redencion Caimbon, who had a different finding: Philip did not write the suicide note. His father, Don Pepe, admitted during the House inquiry that he gave Caimbon a different set of letters and did not comply with Fernan’s directive.
The Senate committee report was completed without resolving this important issue. Yet, as Rep. Antonio Cuenco said, “the crux of the matter lies on the genuineness or the fakery of the alleged suicide note. If the suicide note is found to be genuine, then the conclusion is that he committed suicide.” To resolve this issue, the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group formed a panel of document examiners. The panel attested to the genuineness of the suicide note.
—CAPT. RICARDO M. ORDOÑEZ,
BRP Bacolod City in 1995