THE Regional Trial Court of Antipolo City has found three members of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) guilty of two counts of murder and sentenced them to 40 years of imprisonment for each count in connection with the killing of labor leader Rolando “Ka Lando” Olalia and his aide Leonor Alay-ay almost 35 years ago.
Declared guilty by the court were Fernando Casanova, Dennis Jabatan, and Desiderio Perez.
“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, Antipolo RTC Branch 97 Presiding Judge Marie Claire Mabutas-Sorda also directed the three accused to pay the heirs of Olalia the amount 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 other accused remain at large.
“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,” Atty. Rolando Rico Olalia, son of Ka Lando, said in a statement.
However, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said despite the court’s decision, “there is still a tinge of frustration” as only three accused have been convicted while several others have remained at large.
“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 president Edre Olalia said.
In 2016, the Antipolo RTC exonerated former Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and now Philippine Ambassador to Germany Eduardo “Red” Kapunan of any involvement in the crime.
Kapunan was acquitted after the trial court granted his demurrer to evidence.
A demurrer to evidence is in effect a motion to dismiss filed by the accused after the prosecution finished its presentation of evidence.
It is anchored on the ground that the evidence presented was insufficient.