By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – Former Air Force Lt. Col. Eduardo “Red” Kapunan managed to evade detention at the Rizal Provincial Jail despite last Monday’s court order for his immediate transfer to this civilian detention facility. The Philippine Army which holds him in custody since he surrendered last Oct 6 had refused to comply with the court order, citing a motion for reconsideration filed by Kapunan’s lawyer and sister-in-law, Lorna Kapunan.
“The order of the court cannot be stopped by a mere motion, much less invoked by the Philippine Army,” Edre Olalia, one of the private prosecutors and cousin of murder victim Rolando Olalia, told the court Wednesday.
Kapunan’s lawyer, Lorna Kapunan, on the other hand, complained that the prosecution, by granting media interviews, is purportedly engaging in “trial by publicity.” Before Wednesday’s hearing, she had also berated the private prosecutors for such media interviews. Edre Olalia replied they were only “polite and answering media inquiries.” He also reminded lawyer Kapunan that she, too, had been discussing the case with the media.
Kapunan’s lawyer defended the Philippine Army, saying that the prosecutors’ claims to the media are “manifestly unfair to the Army” and sending a “subliminal message that Kapunan is getting special treatment from the Philippine Army.”
Kapunan, military tried to silence the Olalia prosecutors
In response to the complaint of Kapunan’s lawyers, Judge Maria Consejo Gengos-Ignalaga appealed to “both parties to refrain from making unnecessary comments” in the media, as the court will now evaluate the case. The case has dragged on for years, she noted.
Olalia warned that the court might be vulnerable to being questioned if updates on the double murder case would not be discussed. He added also that “If they (Kapunan’s defense) wanted us to be silent, then the same provision must apply to the Philippine Army spokesman Major Harold Cabunoc.”
From L to R: Lawyer Lorna Kapunan, accused former Sgt. Desiderio Perez (in orange) and accused former Lt. Col. Eduardo Kapunan (in blue), at court hearing Oct 24 (Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)
The Court required Kapunan’s custodian in the Philippine Army to explain why they did not comply with the court order calling for Kapunan’s immediate transfer to the Rizal Provincial Jail, considering that the order is final and executory. The court said lawyer Alex Popanes of the Philippine Army should explain this non-compliance to the order. Popanes did not attend this week’s hearing. In last week’s hearing, Popanes had also asked the court to compel the public prosecutors not to grant media interviews.
Kapunan’s lawyer also questioned the role of the private prosecutors coming from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers since the Department of Justice (DOJ) has created a team of public prosecutors for the Olalia-Alay-ay double murder case.
The head of the public prosecutors from the DOJ clarified they have “direct control and supervision” over the team of prosecutors, and that there is no prohibition to delegate tasks to private prosecutors.
NBI detention for Kapunan
Kapunan’s defense had told reporters last week that they will not object to his detention at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). In this week’s hearing, the court did order the transfer of Kapunan to the custody of the NBI. The court will have the order “served personally.”
Judge Maria Consejo Gengos-Ignalaga said the court knows about the condition of the Rizal Provincial Jail, and that the court is of the impression “it is capable of handling high-profile detainees like Kapunan.” The police officer who attended last week’s hearing to testify that their detention facility cannot handle more detainees such as Kapunan was referring to another jail facility (Hilltop, also in Rizal), and not the Rizal Provincial Jail.
The Rizal Provincial Jail warden also appeared in court to back up the claims of Kapunan’s lawyer that they do not have the appropriate means to ensure the security and medical needs of Kapunan. They have written the court about this.
At the same time, the NBI withdrew its earlier opposition to Kapunan’s transfer to its detention facility in Manila. The lawyer and officer-in-charge of the NBI legal division attended the hearing Wednesday to affirm the NBI’s manifestation with prayer to withdraw their previous opposition to Kapunan being jailed in their facility. The NBI submitted this manifestation Tuesday, following the court’s Monday order for Kapunan’s ‘immediate’ transfer to the Rizal Provincial Jail.
Accused former Sgt. Desiderio Perez (in orange) is detained at a Rizal civilian jail; accused former Lt. Col. Eduardo Kapunan (in blue) cited health reasons to avoid detention at Rizal jail Oct 24 (Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)
Lawyer Joselito Amon of the Legal Evaluation Division of the NBI told the court that the NBI has addressed the issues that were the basis of its initial opposition to Kapunan’s transfer. He also cited the lack of coordination in the NBI. He said their detention facility, which currently has Michael Ray Aquino, among others, “can now provide for the security and medical needs of Col. Kapunan.” He added they have a 24-hour doctor on duty that would attend to the medical needs of Col. Kapunan, plus, they have easy access to hospitals.
The court order for Kapunan’s transfer to the NBI detention facility will be issued this week.