3 RAM soldiers convicted in Olalia, Alay-ay murder

Emmanuel Tupas – The Philippine Star

October 13, 2021 | 12:00am

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MANILA, Philippines — A court in Antipolo has convicted three former soldiers in connection with the killing of labor leader Rolando Olalia and his driver Leonor Alay-ay 35 years ago.

In a 34-page decision issued on Sept. 24 and released yesterday, Antipolo Regional Trial Court Branch 97 Judge Marie Claire Victoria Mabutas-Sordan said Fernando Casanova, Dennis Jabatan and Desiderio Perez of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) were found guilty of murder.

The three were sentenced to life in prison without eligibility for parole.

The court also ordered the three to pay P1.2 million in civil, moral, exemplary and temperate damages to the heirs of Olalia and P900,000 to the heirs of Alay-ay.

”The accused have been given more than enough time to prove their defense. It appears that their defense was that of denial,” the court ruling read.

The court said there was conspiracy based on the pieces of evidence

and testimonies presented during the trial.

“Through evidence adduced during hearing on the petitions for bail, it

is clear that the operation involved in these cases involved careful planning and surveillance,“ it said.

The court said the accused used ”superior strength” as three vehicles carrying 11 people were employed to snatch the victims.

Olalia and Alay-ay were kidnapped on Nov. 13, 1986. They were found dead the following day, both hog-tied, with their mouths stuffed with newspaper pages.

Their bodies bore gunshot and stab wounds as well as torture marks.

Casanova, Jabatan and Perez were among the 13 RAM members tagged in the double-murder case. Nine remain at large.

Eduardo Kapunan Jr., the country’s ambassador to Germany, was acquitted in 2016.

The Olalia family welcomed the court ruling, but expressed frustration that only three were convicted.

Day of celebration, loss

“Today is a day of celebration and of restored belief in our judicial system. It is also a day of loss and a day of remembrance in honor of two brave and honorable men we were privileged to know as father and friend,” Olalia’s son Rolando Rico said in a statement.

“Our victory today only stiffened our resolve to never abandon our search for the remaining nine men involved in the brutal killing,” he said.

He said it is only when Cirilo Almario, Jose Bacera, Ricardo Dicon, Gilbert Galicia, Oscar Legaspi, Filomeno Maligaya, Gene Paris, Freddie Sumagaysay and Edger Sumido and the other suspects ”have been found and brought before the courts to be held accountable for their crimes will justice be finally served.”

Partial victory

Antonio Pascual, National Federation of Labor Unions secretary-general said the court ruling is a partial victory for workers and the family of Olalia.

Pascual said the fight is not over with the guilty verdict as the case could still be elevated to the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.

Kilusang Mayo Uno chairman Elmer Labog said workers are not fully happy because they know the mastermind behind the killing of Olalia has yet to be prosecuted. – Mayen Jaymalin, Evelyn Macairan



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