Blood Debts

by Juan L. Mercado

Reactions Viewpoint column “Restitution” (6/5/14) have cascaded in. The column reported that the Court of Appeals had reaffirmed Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales’ order: Fire the 10 Navy men linked to the 1995 murder of Ensign Philip Pestaño.

An Ateneo honor student, Pestaño joined the Navy after graduating from the Philippine Military Academy in 1993. As cargo master for the ship BRP Bacolod City, he refused to load illegal logs and drugs.

Enrique Angeles helped elevate Pestaño’s murder to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. From California, Angeles wrote: Maybe a one-day international conference for Philip’s 20th death anniversary in 2015 should be organized. It could focus on the lessons of that cover-up for the nation’s justice system.

Invite President Aquino, Ombudsman Morales, the UN Commission on Human Rights representative, plus those with some involvement in the case. They can endorse renaming the Navy headquarters after Philip.

Dr. Carolina Camara from Butuan City added: Invite the families of the missing enlisted men who had helped Pestaño: PO2 Zosimo Villanueva and PO3 Fidel Tagaytay. They were liquidated. And compensation for them is long overdue.

Art Alfriz and Jess Sapala agreed with the idea of renaming the Navy headquarters after Philip, “after the closure of the case finding [him] a hero, not a heel.” Count me in, e-mailed Jimmy D. Blas of 185 Evergreen Drive in Westbury, New York. Blas commended all who had “raised the level of awareness to go after the murderers of a principled Filipino.”

Buninay1 e-mailed disagreement. “The Navy failed him when it did not ferret out the truth about his demise… The Navy does not deserve to be given a makeover as shallow as a name change if it cannot live up to its mandate of protecting the country’s interest.

“I would prefer that the Pestaño name be lent to an academic institution to inspire the youth… It’d be folly [to allow] the Navy to bask in the honor of a comrade who perished on orders from those whose nefarious activities Pestaño sought to frustrate. Nay, it will be the model of absurdity to allow the victimizer to reap honors for the victim.”

Twenty sacks of shabu? inquired AlexanderAmproz. But .02 grams gets five years in jail for small potatoes. Our hopes remain with the fearless “Tres Marias.” Mr Moonlight noted that “in Japan, when a man loses his honor, he commits suicide.”  Henri_See added: The PMA should be proud of its graduate Ensign Pestaño. Hell, every Filipino should be proud of Pestaño.

Said asarin: PMAers… code of silence.

Those conspirators still living must be put on trial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Ben Aquino argued. This kind of crime in the military is not acceptable. If continued to be hidden, it spreads fear among the troops and destroys their morale. Even retired conspirators are still liable.

Ben Aquino added: If a cadet like Aldrin Cudia is dismissed from the PMA for being late for two minutes, this crime should be solved immediately. Mr. President, you are the Commander in Chief. Act decisively.

Focus on the masterminds, the guys who issue the orders, not the subalterns who execute the orders, satoriseeker urged. Remember the assassination of former senator Benigno Aquino Jr., and Ferdinand Marcos, Danding Cojuangco, Fabian Ver and Luther Custodio? Focus on the brains.

“What is my viewpoint?” e-mailed cry_freedom. Strip them naked and feed their bodies to the dogs. Unfortunately, even the dogs wouldn’t touch them. Dogs are a better lot or better yet, heat the Inferno 77x7x7 and throw them in alive. The Evil One would be happy to retire, what with these very able replacements.

Is Admiral Pio Carranza still alive and still untouchable? asked tarikan in his e-mailed query. “Only an admiral, and yet he can unnecessarily waste those many lives?”

Where are these 10 Navy officers linked to Pestaño’s murder? asked virgoyap. Are they now in jail? They inflicted a grave injustice on this righteous Navy officer. I hope Pestaño will be given the honor that is due him.

Please, please, show that justice will prevail and jail all those Navy men who killed Ensign Pestaño, wrote Taga-Masid. “Where is the pledge of brotherhood that PMA [cadets] swear to on graduation?”

One suggestion, e-mailed AllaMo. Rename the farcical sounding Marcos Highway into Pestaño Highway. Kruger differed: “Bring back the death penalty, line these cowards up and shoot them in the face! And kindly stop this rename-this-rename-that BS!”

Why dismissal only for the 10 Navy men? asked eirons1043. What about the civil and criminal liabilities of those involved in the Pestaño case, especially the officers who covered it up? Why has the state not disbarred those involved in corruption? That is why corruption persists.

Wouldn’t it be great for a nation addicted to gold braid and uniforms, plus “first places at table,” to have Navy headquarters named after a lowly ensign? e-mailed Manuel de la Torre from Idaho. Clothes or uniforms do not make a man.

Almost a hundred years back, the Chinese writer Lu Xun said, “All blood debts must be repaid in kind: the longer the delay, the greater the interest.” What recompense and compounding interest are adequate for the blood debts incurred against Pestaño and his men?


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