DOJ forms new team to handle Olalia slay caseBy Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Friday created a new five-member task force that will handle the prosecution of the suspects behind the murders of labor leader Rolando Olalia and his driver Leonor Alay-ay.
Named 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.
In a statement, De Lima said the double murder case, “is imbued with public interest demanding only the most thorough and meticulous prosecution” from the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The prosecutors were also instructed to vehemently oppose any motion by retired Col. Eduardo “Red” Kapunan Jr. to remain in military custody.
De Lima said the prosecutors would seek the transfer of Kapunan to civilian custody, preferably his detention at 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,” she 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 Kapunan, 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.
Appeal for amnesty
The trial of the case before the regional trial court (RTC) in Antipolo City was stalled when Kapunan and Legaspi appealed the DOJ resolution all the way to the Supreme Court, invoking, among others, the amnesty granted to them by Proclamation No. 347 dated March 1995 signed by then President Fidel V. Ramos which allegedly extinguished their criminal liability.
On March 13, 2009, the Supreme Court found that there was prima facie evidence to prosecute Kapunan and Legaspi for the murders.
The high court dismissed the petitioners’ arguments that they were exempt from prosecution as a result of the 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.