MANILA, Philippines—One of the principal accused in the 1986 Olalia-Alay-ay murder case admitted to conducting a surveillance of the slain labor leader when he was head of an intelligence unit under the Department of National Defense but said this was only to affirm or debunk reports that the Corazon Aquino government at the time had strong ties with the left.
Taking the witness stand late Tuesday afternoon at the Antipolo Regional Trial Court Branch 98 in his civilian clothes in support of his petition for bail, the media-elusive, former lieutenant colonel, Eduardo Kapunan said he “took it upon (himself)” to “verify (these) reports” that surfaced after the Edsa Revolution, and ordered his men at the Special Operations Group assigned with the Philippine Coconut Authority to “trail” Rolando Olalia, Bobit Sanchez, among other personalities.
He said, however, that he did not personally know Olalia and knew him only through newspaper reports.
At one point, he said he even asked Menardo Baretto, who served as one of the prosecution witnesses in previous hearings, to help Edger Sumido, another accused in the double-murder, in “trailing” Olalia.
Baretto, at that time, was doing his surveillance on Sanchez, Kapunan said.
“I asked Baretto to help Sumido…because the development was rather slow and I wanted to expedite the process,” he said.
On Sept. 15, 1986, however, Kapunan said he received an order that he was being transferred to the General Headquarters Brigade, where he was ordered reportedly to organize a new anti-hijacking force.
Kapunan said he was ordered transferred because the then-Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile had been removed from office and he and the rest of his men were “identified” with Enrile.
As soon as he got the order, he said he gathered the SOG and ordered “all surveillance (and operations) terminated.”
“I told them I was being transferred to another unit and that whoever would be in charge it would be up to him (to decide whether the surveillance will be continued),” he said.
He said he never knew who his successor was but when he left the unit, he said he gave the reigns to then Lieutenant Commander Elpidio Layson.
“I will admit to the surveillance portion, but to the (abduction, slay, coverup), they are all lies,” Kapunan said.