Kapunan admits ordering surveillance on Olalia, denies involvement in murders

Corroborating state witness Baretto’s statement, but limiting the extent of his involvement to just ordering the surveillance of Olalia, Kapunan admitted that he “asked Barretto to help Sumido in the surveillance of Olalia because of the slow progress (in Sumido’s work).”

By MARYA SALAMAT
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Former Air Force Col. Eduardo “Red” Kapunan, one of the accused masterminds in the Olalia-Alay-ay murders, took the witness stand this week for the first time as his heavily armed escorts guarded the doors and limited the number of people entering the courtroom.

Now 65 years old, Kapunan was 38 when labor leader Olalia and companion Alay-ay were tailed, abducted and murdered, allegedly on his and other RAM leaders’ orders. The other RAM leaders implicated in the double murder include former Col. Gringo Honasan and former Col. Oscar E. Legaspi.

At the court last Tuesday, Kapunan admitted he had ordered the surveillance of Olalia and then labor secretary Augusto “Bobbit” Sanchez. But he denied participation in the double murder, contradicting what state witness former sergeant Medardo Baretto told the court.

Kapunan offered to show his scholastic and academic background, to which the public prosecutors objected, saying this is immaterial to the murder case. But the court listened to Kapunan’s sharing of his military career from the time he graduated in 1971 from the Philippine Military Academy. He said that as a military officer, he pursued being a pilot after PMA but his expertise is intelligence gathering. Among his 1971 batchmates in the PMA are now senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and senator reelectionist Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan.

Kapunan spoke of numerous assignments in the military including the MV Karagatan incident in 1971 and his being assigned in Cotabato. He said he was tasked to take basic officers intelligence course in 1976, after which he was recruited by the office of the Department of National Defense under Juan Ponce Enrile (now Senate President). Kapunan said he was assigned at the national defense intelligence office. They were involved in national security and economic security intelligence gathering.

Based on Kapunan’s testimony, they gathered intelligence information through open-source gathering and wire-tapping. As state witness Medardo Baretto had said when he testified in past hearings, Kapunan reiterated that he got to know Baretto in his stint at the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) in 1979.

After his stint at the PCA, he became commanding officer of the Special Operations Group under the defense department. As state witness Baretto had testified, Kapunan’s testimony also revealed he had indeed given an order involving Olalia. Acting on reports that the Aquino government had links with the Left, Kapunan said he took it upon himself to investigate Olalia and Bobbit Sanchez. But he said his orders “were to conduct surveillance whether or not there’s strong linkage between Cory and the Left.”

Corroborating state witness Baretto’s statement, but limiting the extent of his involvement to just ordering the surveillance of Olalia, Kapunan admitted that he “asked Barretto to help Sumido in the surveillance of Olalia because of the slow progress (in Sumido’s work).”

Kapunan stressed that he recalled the teams of Baretto and Sumido before Sept. 15, 1986, after he received orders of his transfer.

One of the founders of RAM (Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabansa) in 1983, Kapunan, according to his testimony last Tuesday April 23, had worked as a military official toward launching coup d’ etats in 1987 and in 1989.

State witness’ testimony just an ‘invention’?

Former Col. Kapunan and his lawyer tried to discredit the state witness, particularly former TSgt. Medardo Dumlao Baretto.

Kapunan’s lawyer and sister-in-law Lorna Kapunan told reporters after the hearing that the claims of state witness Medardo Baretto were just “inventions,” committed by someone who had been involved in burglaries. She said in Filipino that Baretto could have feared reprisal for his alleged burglaries, hence ‘he invented this testimony against Kapunan.’ She also said the other state witness, former sergeant Eduardo Bueno, had corroborated her client’s statement that he was no longer commanding officer of SOG at the time of the Olalia-Alay-ay murder. (But Bueno also pointed to Kapunan as commanding officer of Group 56 among RAM soldiers who conducted operations on Olalia.)

Former Col. Kapunan testified that Barretto was involved in robberies, but he admitted it was just hearsay. He confirmed Baretto’s account that they met twice at the UCC coffee shop sometime in 2010 through Maligaya who was a former mayor of Cavite. He admitted that the subject of these meetings was the recantation of Barretto.

Kapunan said Barretto had shed tears and apologized for having implicated him in the case. Kapunan said he asked Barretto to recant and that the latter agreed. (Baretto had testified that he “played” Kapunan’s endgame out of fear for his life, and to buy time until he could finally divulge the truth in court.)

Kapunan said that in their second meeting at the UCC, Maligaya requested him to give Barretto a bag with P3 million. He said this was witnessed by Kapunan’s driver. After this, he did not meet anymore with Barretto. (Baretto had testified in court that he did not accept the bribe from Kapunan.)

‘We also want to know the truth’

Lawyer Lorna Kapunan told reporters that “Red Kapunan had nothing to do with the abduction, torture and murder of Olalia and Alay-ay.” Though data shows that Kapunan and the 12 other accused had cited their amnesty to block this trial for at least 14 years, lawyer Kapunan said, “We also want to know the truth.”

She also expressed surprise that this case was “revived” when all political crimes of her client were “wiped out by the amnesty.” The Supreme Court ruled three years ago that the murders of Olalia and Alay-ay are not covered by the amnesty, hence the start at last of this trial. ()

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