Skooter reporting 10/12/12
After 14 years as a fugitive, a former Philippine military officer accused of killing an anti-government protest leader has finally Turned himself in, the government said Thursday.
However, 11 other ex-soldiers accused of taking part in the murder are still on the run in a case that rights activists say underlines a "culture of impunity" in the Philippines in which powerful figures easily elude justice.
In May 1998, a court ordered the arrest of retired air force Colonel Eduardo Kapunan and 12 others for the 1986 murders of Rolando Olalia, head of the Bayan and May First Movement groups that led anti-government street protests. One of the suspects, former soldier Desiderio Perez surrendered in July.
Kapunan, likely to be in his early 60s, walked into a military camp in Panay, a central island in the Visayas region on Friday and gave himself in, said army chief Lieutenant-General Emmanuel Bautista.
Bautista told the media, the suspect did not give details where he hid nor how he could spend more than 14 years as a fugitive.
However, a Manila-based researcher for Human Rights Watch, by the name of Carlos Conde said the case was typical of the government's failure speedily to hold to account military officials or other powerful figures accused of crimes. He was saying that Mr. Kapunan has friends in high places. Let’s bring it to mind that he was not arrested but he surrendered voluntarily.
He called on the military to quickly turn Kapunan over to the court and for the government to find and detain the other Olalia murder suspects. Conde was quoted as saying, "The government has an opportunity here to demonstrate that it could break this impunity and communicate to members of the military who are implicated in abuses that they will be held accountable for their action.”
The head of the government’s Human Rights Commission, Loretta Rosales also believed Kapunan may have been coddled by influential figures.
Olalia and his driver were kidnapped and murdered as Kapunan and other right-wing officers struggled for power after helping disposedfrom power in a "People Power" revolution that year.
During the Marcos dictatorship, military killed many left-wing figures and continued after the “People Power” revolution, according to rights groups. Soon Kapunan took part in a string of military uprisings against democracy leader and new president, the late mother of the current President Benigno Aquino.