“[Judge Ma. Consejo] Ignalaga’s act paves the way for the acquittal of Kapunan and the clearing of the names of people who were higher than him in the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) chain of command, people who masterminded the murder of our comrades Olalia and Alay-ay.”
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – A year after former Air Force Col. Eduardo “Red” Kapunan began to be held in custody as one of the accused masterminds in the Olalia-Alay-ay double murder, he was granted bail this week by the Antipolo regional court Branch 98 presided by Judge Ma. Consejo Gengos-Ignalaga. The granting of Kapunan’s petition for bail followed a year of court hearings in which at least two state witnesses who were also former soldiers tagged Kapunan and other soldiers from the right-wing RAM group as calling the shots in the military operation (which they said was also RAM operation) that included the abduction and murder of labor leader and lawyer Rolando Olalia and his companion, Leonor Alay-ay in Nov 13, 1987.
Echoing what lawyers led by Lorna Kapunan, sister-in-law of retired Col. Eduardo Kapunan, had been saying during court hearings, Judge Ignalaga said “it has not been clearly established” that Col. Kapunan conspired in the murder of Olalia and Alay-ay. The judge refused the petitions for bail filed by Dennis Jabatan and Desiderio Perez, the soldiers who were under Kapunan and are in custody at the Rizal provincial jail and who were positively identified by state witnesses as present at the scene of the crime.
The Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned the judge’s decision, calling it “an outrageous case of injustice.”
“Ignalaga’s act paves the way for the acquittal of Kapunan and the clearing of the names of people who were higher than him in the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) chain of command, people who masterminded the murder of our comrades Olalia and Alay-ay – namely, senators Gringo Honasan and Juan Ponce Enrile,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, chairman of KMU.
Olalia’s widow, Feliciana, said she does not know Red Kapunan personally. She just learned about what happened to her husband (and to Alay-ay) through the statement of the (state) witnesses. “I’m sorry to say (it), but I don’t believe the denial of the accused,” she had told the court last September.
Olalia was chairman of KMU when he was murdered in 1987. Subsequent investigations into his gruesome death resulted in the implication of top leaders of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM). That was in the 80s but the actual filing of case and issuance of warrants of arrest to the accused only moved in court since late last year.
Labog said the decision shows how the country’s justice system “favors the elite over the poor, the top brass of the military over victims of human rights violations, the reactionary Right over the progressive Left.”
The labor group has also noted in the past the seeming differences in the treatment of retired Col. Kapunan and the two others of the 13 accused in custody. The two former seargeants are currently detained in the Rizal Provincial Jail. They attend the hearings wearing orange inmate shirt, handcuffed, and guarded or secured by policemen. Former Lt. Col. Kapunan, meanwhile, is under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila, for medical reasons they said. He attends the hearing frequently in blue shirt with collar, with no handcuff, with armed security by the NBI and/or the Philippine Army.
The KMU said the court’s decision allowing Kapunan to post bail “shows that the justice system remains corrupt despite Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s promises of “change.”
The labor group blames Aquino for the ruling, saying that even as the president is staging struggles with Enrile and others involved in the P10-billion pork barrel scam, “he is united with Enrile over the latter’s human rights violations, and that he has been using the same approach to Gloria Arroyo.” This approach involves “publicity war over corruption, silence on human rights violations.”
“Ignalaga’s ruling highlights the closeness of the Kapunans and Atty. Kapunan’s client, businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, to the Aquino regime,” Labog said. The labor center feared the granting of Kapunan’s petition for bail also does not augur well for the prosecution of those involved in the pork barrel scam.
“It is disgusting that Aquino seems intent to clear the names of people responsible for one of the most prominent crimes and human rights violations committed under his mother’s presidency,” Labog said.