THE Supreme Court has given the go-signal for the prosecution of two members of the rebel military group Reform the Armed Forces of the Philippines Movement (RAM) in connection with the killing of Kilusang Mayo Uno head Rolando Olalia and his driver Leonor Alay-ay 23 years ago.
The Supreme Court Second Division, in a 27-page decision written by Associate Justice Dante. Tinga, dismissed the consolidated petitions of former Cols. Eduardo Kapunan Jr. and Oscar Legazpi and affirmed an earlier joint decision and a resolution by the Court of Appeals.
The Court of Appeals had ruled that the two military rebels were not covered by the immunity granted to rebels soldiers in 1994 by former President Fidel Ramos.
Olalia and Alay-ay were both found dead with their bodies riddled with bullets on November 13, 1986.
The Department of Justice panel of prosecutors that investigated the case refused to consider petitioners’ defense of amnesty as it did not apply to the murder case. Moreover, the panel ruled that the killings did not stem from a political belief as there was no rebellion yet launched against the Aquino government.
Kapunan and Legazpi elevated their case to the appellate court, which also dismissed their petitions, saying the panel did not commit any grave abuse on discretion in its decision. The Court of Appeals in its resolution dated May 22, 2001, similarly denied their motion for reconsideration.
On June 13, 2001, Kapunan filed before the Supreme Court a petition for review on certiorari for the reversal of the appellate court rulings and annulment of the Justice department letters-resolution. Legazpi, for his part, filed a similar pleading on July 12, 2001.
But the High Court rejected their arguments, saying there was prima facie evidence for the petitioners’ prosecution. “The arguments that petitioners are exempt from prosecution on account of the grants of amnesty they had received are ultimately without merit, on account of the specified limitations in the said grant of amnesty,” it said.
The Tribunal held that the amnesty granted to Kapunan extend to acts constitution only one crime which was rebellion.
It added that the limited scope of the amnesty granted to Legazpi is even more apparent as it only covered offenses connected with his participation in the 1987 and 1989 coup attempts against the Aquino government.
— William B. Depasupil, Manila Times