By JONAS ALPASAN
MANILA — Today, Oct. 12, 2021, a Philippine court is set rule on the nearly 35-year old double murder case of labor leader Rolando Olalia and Leonor Alay-ay.
The two were abducted by armed men on the night of November 12, 1986 along Julia Vargas Avenue in Pasig City. Their remains were found the following day in Rizal, bearing bruises and stab wounds and a gunshot in their heads.
There were 13 suspects in their murder – all of them were members and ranking officers of the Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabansa (RAM), considered as right-wing elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at that time. RAM, headed by former senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Gregorio Honasan, supposedly carried out their brutal killings as part of their plan to destabilize the administration of then President Corazon Aquino.
Read: Witness says Olalia, Alay-ay murder ordered by military officials
Read: Olalia-Alay-ay case reminds public of Enrile’s role in history
It took 21 years for the Supreme Court to rule that the trial courts may proceed with the case, and more than a year before it was raffled to a judge. Olalia’s son, Rolando Rico, who eventually became one of the private prosecutors in the case, told Bulatlat in a 2011 interview that no one seemed to want to handle the case.
Read: After 25 years, still no justice for labor leader Rolando Olalia, Leonor Alay-ay
Read: 27 years, testimonies, enough to nail higher-ups behind Olalia, Alay-ay murder – KMU
A pre-trial was made in 2012, almost 26 years after the incident, with only one of the 13 suspects in custody.
Today, the court will promulgate its decision on three of the 13 suspects of the Olalia-Alay-ay murder case. Eduardo Kapunan Jr., the Philippine ambassador to Myanmar, is one of the suspects but was granted bail and acquitted in 2016.
Read: Kapunan claims no knowledge of the Olalia-Alay-ay double murder
Read: 30 years after Olalia-Alay-ay double murder | Ex-Col. Kapunan acquitted
Read: Witness recounts ‘clean-up’, cover-up of Olalia, Alay-ay murders by soldiers
This despite the fact that a state witness said that Kapunan ordered their team of soldiers to “clean up the dirt left in the wake of the Olalia operations,” including an order-to-kill soldier who took part in the abduction and murder of the labor leader and his companion.
The rest of the suspects remain at large.
Read: Olalia-Alay-ay double murder, first big crime to ‘shatter illusion of democracy’
Read: Rolando ‘Ka Lando’ Olalia: hero of workers, good father
A colleague in the Kilusang Mayo Uno described the late labor leader as very much unlike his father Felixberto “Ka Bert” Olalia Sr. who was very strict and a “hardliner”.
Ka Lando, said Nitz Gonzaga, who worked as secretary of Ka Bert, had good humor and easy to get along with.
“I remember him telling us his experiences as a barker in Pampanga. He would act it out and we would laugh very hard,” Gonzaga recalled. (JJE, RTS)