Court convicts three RAM members for 1986 killing of labor leader Olalia, activist Alay-ay

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The verdict comes nearly 35 years after the brutal killing of labor leader Rolando Olalia (photographed) and union worker Leonor Alay-ay. Those they left behind, however, say the fight for justice is not over until all perpetrators are held to account.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 12) — Nearly 35 years after labor leader Rolando Olalia and union worker Leonor Alay-ay were brutally tortured and killed, an Antipolo court found three former military officers guilty in the double murder case.

Judge Marie Claire Victoria Mabutas-Sordan of the Antipolo Regional Trial Court Branch 97 convicted Fernando Casanova, Dennis Jabatan, and Desiderio Perez of two counts of murder for the deaths of Olalia and Alay-ay.

The three were members of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM), and are among the 13 men accused of committing the high-profile crime.

The court sentenced them to reclusion perpetua, or up to 40 years in prison, without eligibility for parole.

They were also ordered to pay the heirs of Olalia ₱1.2 million and of Alay-ay ₱900,000 in civil indemnity and damages.

'Fight for justice not over'

On November 12, 1986, Olalia was abducted in Pasig City along with his driver Alay-ay. They were found dead a day later in Antipolo, Rizal.

Olalia — who at the time was the leader of the Kilusang Mayo Uno — was nearly unrecognizable after sustaining several gunshot and stab wounds. He was bound, and newspapers were shoved into his mouth. Alay-ay's body was also riddled with bullets and stab marks.

In a statement, the slain leader's son and namesake Atty. Rolando Rico Olalia welcomed the court's verdict, which he noted came amid a "glacial pace of justice."

"Today is a day of celebration and of restored belief in our judicial system," he said. "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."

However, Rolando Rico stressed his family's "fight for justice is not over," as nine others linked to the killings remain at large: Cirilo Almario, Jose Bacera Jr., Ricardo Dicon, Gilbert Galicia, Oscar Legaspi, Filomeno Maligaya, Gene Paris, Freddie Sumagaysay, and Edger Sumido.

"Our victory today has only stiffened our resolve to never abandon our search for the remaining 9 men involved in our father's brutal killing," the son said.

In 2016, former Col. Eduardo Kapunan, Jr., another person implicated in the case and one of RAM's founders, was cleared by the same Antipolo court. He is currently the Philippine ambassador to Myanmar.

According to the younger Olalia and the KMU, justice will only truly be served when all those involved in the killings but "managed to evade the long arm of the law" are held accountable.

Edre Olalia — president of the National Union of People's Lawyers and the late KMU chairman's cousin — also said much has yet to be done. But he added that the ruling proves "law and justice will in time catch up with perpetrators later if not sooner."