3 convicted for death of labor leader Olalia 35 years ago

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Three former servicemen have been convicted by the Antipolo Regional Trial Court Branch 97 for the killing of labor leader Rolando Olalia and companion Leonor Alay-ay 35 years ago.

In a 34-page judgment dated September 24 and made available Tuesday, Judge Marie Claire Victoria Mabutas-Sordan found Desiderio Perez, Dennis Jabatan, and Fernando Casanova guilty of murder and sentenced them to reclusion perpetua (maximum 40 years) without eligibility of parole.

They were likewise ordered to pay P2.2 million in damages and indemnity for the November 1986 twin deaths.

“All monetary awards shall earn interest at the legal rate of six percent per annum from the date of finality of this decision until fully paid,” the court ordered.

Olalia, 52, was an official of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) at that time while Alay-ay was an employee at the National Federation of Labor Union and was the driver when they were abducted in Pasig City.

“Today is a day of celebration and of restored belief in our judicial system,” Olalia’s son, lawyer Rolando Rico Olalia, said in a statement. “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 as a friend.”

The court based much of its ruling on the testimony of state witness Medardo Barreto, a retired policeman who had been a member of the Philippine Constabulary and detailed under the Department of Defense’s Special Operations Group.

“The Court has carefully sifted through the volumes of records of these cases and is fully convinced that the prosecution was able to establish beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of the accused in these cases,” the decision reads.

“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. There should be no doubt, therefore, that the qualifying circumstance of evident premeditation, has been satisfactorily proved,” the ruling added.

What happened

The three originally reported to then-Col. Eduardo Kapunan, currently the Ambassador to Germany.

Kapunan was one of those originally charged but was subsequently cleared when a court granted his demurrer to evidence in 2016.

The convicts were part of the group that conducted surveillance on Olalia at a Japanese restaurant along Edsa, Quezon City on Nov. 12, 1986.

They then trailed Olalia’s vehicle and intercepted it along Julia Vargas Avenue near the Kaimito Gate of Valle Verde 2 and proceeded to a safehouse in Cubao.

The victims’ bodies were found in Antipolo the following day, reportedly mutilated beyond recognition.

The cases against nine others have been archived and will be reactivated once they are arrested.

“We are still expecting the masterminds to be prosecuted. Justice will only truly be served if they are named and judged. There are still nine suspects at large. They must also be sought and convicted,” a KMU statement read.

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