A regional trial court in Antipolo City has convicted members of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) and sentenced them to up to 40 years of imprisonment for the death of labor leader Rolando “Ka Lando” Olalia and unionist Leonor Alay-ay more than 30 years ago.
Antipolo RTC Branch 97 Presiding Judge Marie Claire Mabutas-Sorda found Fernando Casanova, Dennis Jabatan, and Desiderio Perez guilty for the deaths of Olalia and Alay-ay. They are only three out of 13 RAM members under detention for the crime.
“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 34-page decision read.
“The prosecution through the witnesses it presented was able to show the participation of accused Desiderio Perez, Dennis Jabatan and Fernando Casanova,” it added.
Aside from the prison terms, Judge Mabutas-Sorda also directed the three to pay the heirs of Olalia the total of P1.2 million as civil, moral, exemplary, and temperate damages.
For Alay-ay’s death, the court directed the accused to pay his heirs the amount of P900,000 as civil, moral, exemplary, and temperate damages.
“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 ruling read.
Judge Mabutas-Sorda has also sent the cases to archives subject to reactivation considering that the other nine accused remain at large.
One of the accused, Col. Red Kapunan, is currently the Philippine Ambassador to Germany. He was cleared in 2016 after the court granted his demurrer to evidence.
A demurrer to evidence is in effect a motion to dismiss anchored on the ground that the evidence presented is insufficient.
“Our victory today has only stiffened our resolve to never abandon our search for the remaining nine men involved in our father’s brutal killing,” lawyer Rolando Rico Olalia, son of Ka Lando, said in a statement.
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers said that while the Antipolo Court’s decision gives relief, they still have the “tinge of frustration” as only three of the accused have been convicted.
“On the one hand, others who are allegedly involved—based on the disturbing testimonial evidence of the prosecution—remain off the hook and are in our midst. Nine of those formally charged are still at large despite 35 years on the run,” NUPL lawyer Edre Olalia, a cousin of Ka Lando, said.
“For the families of the victims, the judicial proceedings from one court to another were too protracted, the legal tactics were over-utilized, and twists and turns at different junctures, levels and fora were exasperating,” he added.
Teddy Casiño of BAYAN expressed the same sentiment, saying “this victory, while it is welcome, it is too little, too late.” He called the decision “partial victory.”
Both Casiño and Kilusang Mayo Uno leader Elmer “Bong” Labog said the three who were convicted are only the foot soldiers.
“Only when Cirilo Almario, Jose Bacera, Ricardo Dicon, Gilbert Galicia, Oscar Legaspi, Filomeno Maligaya, Gene Paris, Freddie Sumagaysay, Edger Sumido—and all the other unnamed principals—who have managed to evade the long arm of the law have been found and brought before the courts to be held accountable for their crimes will justice be finally served,” Rolando Rico Olalia said.