MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has designated a panel of prosecutors to handle the trial of the case involving the double murder of Rolando Olalia, former chairman of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), and his driver, Leonor Alay-ay.
Per Department Order (DO) No. 860 dated Oct. 12 but released to the media only on Friday, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima designated Senior Deputy State Prosecutor (SDSP) Theodore Villanueva, Senior Asst. State Prosecutor (SASP) Edna Valenzuela, Asst. State Prosecutor (ASP) Hazel Valdez, ASP Benito Oliver Sales III, and Asst. Provincial Prosecutor (APP) Maria Ronatay as members of the panel tasked to prosecute the criminal case entitled, "People of the Philippines vs. Cirilo Almario, et al." pending before the Antipolo City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 98.
"The Olalia double murder case is imbued with public interest demanding only the most thorough and meticulous prosecution from the DOJ," De Lima said in a statement.
Olalia and Alay-ay were abducted on Nov. 12, 1986, tortured and murdered by alleged members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Separate informations were recommended to be filed before a trial court by the DOJ against Eduardo "Red" Kapunan, Jr., Oscar Legaspi, Ricardo Dicon, Cirilo Almario, Filomeno Crizaldo Maligaya, Edger Sumido, Jose Bacera, Jr., Dennis Jabatan, Freddie Sumagaysay, Fernando Casanova, Gene Paris, Gilberto Galicia, and Desiderio Perez.
The trial was stalled when Kapunan and Legaspi appealed the DOJ resolution and elevated their plea before the Supreme Court. They claimed that the amnesty granted to them by Pres. Fidel Ramos via Proclamation No. 347 dated March 23, 1995 extinguished their criminal liability.
Fourteen years later, the high court ruled that there is prima facie evidence against Kapunan and Legaspi for the double murder since the amnesty granted them was covered by specified limitations.
Last Feb. 3, the trial court hearing the case issued warrants for the arrest of all the accused.
On Oct. 6, Kapunan surrendered and has since been in the custody of the Philippine Army. To date, only Kapunan and co-accused Perez have surrendered; Perez surrendered last July 24.
De Lima has instructed the DOJ panel of prosecutors "to vehemently oppose any motion of Kapunan to be placed under continuing military custody," and to urge the trial court to order the transfer of Kapunan's detention, preferrably, to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
"His (Kapunan's) continued military detention is untenable, questionable and indefensible. For one thing, he is not anymore in active service that can justify the Philippine Army's custody of him," she pointed out.