New prosecution team formed to handle Olalia murder caseBy Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines–Justice Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday created a new five-member prosecution task force that will handle the prosecution of perpetrators guilty of the murders of labor leader Rolando Olalia and his driver Leonor Alay-ay.
Designated members of the panel were Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva; Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Edna Valenzuela; Assistant State Prosecutors Hazel Decena-Valdez, Benito Oliver Sales III; and Rizal Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Maria Ronatay.
The double murder case, De Lima said in a statement, “is imbued with public interest demanding only the most thorough and meticulous prosecution from the DOJ.”
The handling prosecutors were also instructed “to vehemently oppose any motion of Kapunan to be placed under continuing military custody.” De Lima said the prosecutors will be seeking civilian custody for Kapunan, preferably transferring his detention to the National Bureau of Investigation.
“His (Kapunan’s) continued military detention is untenable, questionable and indefensible. For one thing, he is not anymore in active service that can justify the Philippine Army’s custody of him,” the Secretary said.
On Nov. 12, 1986, Olalia, then the chair of the Kilusang Mayo Uno, and his driver were abducted, tortured and killed by alleged soldiers.
On March 18, two separate information were recommended by the DOJ to be filed before the court against Eduardo “Red” Kapunan Jr., Oscar Legaspi, Ricardo Dicon, Cirilio Almario, Filomeno Crizaldo Maligaya, Edger Sumido, Jose Bacera Jr., Dennis Jabatan, Freddie Sumagaysay, Fernando Casanova, Gene Paris, Gilberto Galicia and Desiderio Perez.
The trial of the case before the regional trial court in Antipolo City was stalled when Kapunan and Legaspi appealed the DOJ resolution all the way to the Supreme Court, invoking, among others, that granted to them via Proclamation No. 347 dated March 1995 signed by then President Fidel V. Ramos extinguished their criminal liability.
On March 13, 2009, the Supreme Court found there is prima facie evidence for the prosecution of Kapunan and Legaspi for the murders.
The high court negated the petitioners’ arguments that they were exempt from prosecution on the accounts of amnesty for rebellion and coup d’etat granted to them by the government.
The Antipolo RTC issued warrants of arrest against the accused last February. Only two of the accused have surrendered: Perez on July 24 and Kapunan on Oct. 6.