RAM colonel wanted for Olalia murder surrendersBy Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
One of the leaders of an aborted coup that led to the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution has surrendered in connection with the celebrated murders of labor leader Rolando Olalia and his driver as the nation grappled with unrest in the military that tumultuous year, authorities said Wednesday.
Retired Lt. Col. Eduardo “Red” Kapunan, a prominent officer of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) formed in the final years of the Ferdinand Marcos regime, has been in the custody of the Philippine Army since Saturday, according to its commander. Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista.
Human rights lawyer Edre Olalia, a cousin of the slain labor leader, said he learned about Kapunan’s surrender during a hearing on Wednesday at Antipolo City Regional Trial Court Branch 38 involving Sgt. Desiderio Perez, one of the 13 military men accused in the murders.
The murders of Olalia and his driver, Leonor Alay-ay, were among the more celebrated crimes in the months following the ouster of Marcos and the restoration of democracy in February 1986.
The principal suspects in the killings were officers and soldiers belonging to RAM whose attempt to oust Marcos was aborted by loyalist troops and sparked the breakaway of then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and then Gen. Fidel Ramos, culminating in Edsa I.
Olalia headed the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and was president of Bayan. He and his driver were abducted, tortured, and killed, with their bodies eventually found in Antipolo on Nov. 13, 1986.
The private prosecutors oppose the military custody of Kapunan, Edre Olalia said in a text message.
Objection to military custody
“There is no legal basis or justification for his military custody. What gives? He is not even in active service. This would send again the wrong message that there are multiple uneven standards of justice and treatment in our country,” Edre said.
The lawyer welcomed Kapunan’s surrender and called on the remaining 11 RAM soldiers implicated in the murders to turn themselves in as well.
“It’s been 26 years of painful waiting for justice to be served,” said Edre Olalia, the secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers who is one of the private prosecutors in the case.
Olalia said that during the Perez hearing, the private prosecutors learned of the surrender of Kapunan, who was represented in court by his sister-in-law, Lorna Kapunan. Kapunan’s arraignment was set on Oct. 17 at 1:30 pm.
Bautista told reporters that Kapunan surrendered to the 3rd Infantry Division in Capiz. “He just said I have a warrant of arrest, I intend to turn myself in. We accepted him. He underwent a medical test. He had high blood but on Monday, we immediately went to the court and returned the warrant.”
The Philippine Army chief said that Kapunan was currently in the Army’s Civil Military Unit (CMU) in Fort Bonifacio. He said he was waiting for the court’s directive on where Kapunun should be detained.
“We told the court that we will abide by what it says. We will bring him to a facility identified by the court,” Bautista said.