Nene Pimentel’s reaction to Mon Tulfo’s July 4 column
May I respond to Ramon Tulfo’s column regarding a meeting my client, Pepe Pestaño, and I had with Navy Commander Rey Lopez, Police Supt. Arthur Bisnar and lawyer Jonas Imperial at the Via Mare Restaurant in Diliman, Quezon City, sometime in November 2012 (Metro, 7/4/15).
I respect Tulfo’s right as a journalist to express his thoughts on anything under the sun. But may I just clarify the sentence that he attributed to me to the effect that, as he put it, “Ganyan talaga ’pag may kaso, may nadadamay,” which he translated as follows: “That’s how it is when a criminal case is filed, there are respondents.”
If I said that, at all, there’s nothing “irresponsible” about it. It is an unvarnished truth.
In any case, since Lopez was attending the Bisnar-initiated meeting, and Pepe Pestaño requested me to accompany him to it, I simply wanted to find out if there was anything new that Lopez wanted to tell Pestaño about the killing of his son, Ensign Phillip Pestaño, that could buttress the case against the parties responsible for it. And if there was, I would have wanted him to tell the whole truth, perhaps, as a “state’s witness.” Then, he could be recommended for exclusion as an accused under existing laws.
I deny that we had a “prepared statement” for him to sign. And neither did Pestaño tell that Lopez was “innocent.” That is not true at all.
I would like Tulfo to know that in my years of practicing law, I have never urged, encouraged or abetted any witness supporting our cause to tell lies, negate the truth and desecrate his or her testimony before our courts. In brief, I can honestly say that I have always tried to adhere to the canons of our profession as best I can.
On the opinion of Dr. Raquel Fortun that Phillip committed suicide, let me just say: That point of view has been fully refuted by the testimony of other witnesses, as well as by US forensic evidence that was testified to personally by a forensic expert, Wayne Hill, who had more experience—and qualification, if I might add—on such issues than our good doctor.
Whether or not the death of the victim, Phillip, was suicide or murder had been fully ventilated before the Senate committee on justice and human rights in 1998. And the Senate committee recommended the filing of appropriate charges against those responsible for the killing.
Subsequently, the Ombudsman sanctioned the filing of the criminal case (No. 13-294353) that is now pending before a Metro Manila regional trial court.
Now that the case is already sub judice—in court—after 19 years in limbo, perhaps we should allow the issue to be ventilated there as a matter of evidence rather than through the views of a columnist who merely heard a tall tale from a biased source.
I might add that I know how difficult it is for any person to be deprived of his or her liberty without just cause. But, I guess, it is more painful for innocent parents to go through the agony of waiting for justice over the last 19 years for a son murdered on board a Navy ship at the time the officer on duty was reportedly Rey Lopez.
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