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Government Announces Arrest in Labor Leader’s Murder

December 18, 1986

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ An intelligence officer with the national police has been arrested as a suspect in the kidnap-murder of a prominent leftist labor leader, the government’s Philippine News Agency said today.

The news agency quoted Justice Minister Neptali Gonzales as saying Francisco Espartero was the first suspect to be arrested since President Corazon Aquino created a special task force to investigate the slaying of Rolando Olalia.

Gonzales said authorities also were looking for a civilian employee of the Defense Ministry as a possible accomplice but declined to identify the man, the agency said.

It quoted Gonzales as saying Espartero, an intelligence officer of the Philippine Constabulary who had been absent from his job without leave for some time, also was a primary suspect in an earlier killing.

The Philippine News Agency did not say when Espartero was arrested but quoted Gonzales as saying he was caught by National Bureau of Investigation agents who also found a cache of arms and ammunitions during a raid on his suburban Manila home.

The agency said Espartero, who has not been formally charged, bore a ″striking resemblance″ to composite sketches of one of six men seen around Olalia’s home a few days before his kidnapping on Nov. 12. Olalia’s body along with that of his driver were found in a ditch the following day.

Besides heading the May 1st Movement labor union, Olalia also was president of the leftist People’s Party.

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