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4 Kidnapped in Philippines

May 10, 1998

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Four people, including three village officials supporting opposition presidential candidate Joseph Estrada, were kidnapped in three separate incidents in the central Philippines on the last day of campaigning for Monday’s election, police said Sunday.

Campaigning for Monday’s polls ended Saturday. In addition to the presidential race, some 100,000 candidates are running for more than 17,000 other positions nationwide.

Police said unknown assailants took village leader Fidel Gagad and his wife from their home in the village of Pangabutan in Eastern Samar province.

Hours later, the leaders of the nearby villages of Victoria and Bedo were also abducted.

Police said all three officials, who remained missing, supported Estrada, who has a wide lead in pre-election surveys.

Philippine elections are often marred by fraud and violence, but officials say this year’s campaign has been among the most peaceful.

Police and election officials said at least 34 people have been killed in election-related violence, less than half the number in the 1995 congressional election.

Unknown assailants threw a grenade at a campaign headquarters in Isulan in southern Sultan Kudarat province, wounding five volunteers for presidential candidate Lito Osmena, police said.

In Makati, a grenade blast damaged the campaign headquarters of mayoral candidate Elenita Binay, wife of incumbent Jejomar Binay, police reported. Two houses belonging to Binay’s opponents were also strafed by unknown attackers. No one was hurt in the incidents.

Makati is one of 19 areas that the Commission on Elections has put under close watch.

Another blast occurred in nearby Pasig city when attackers threw an explosive at the headquarters of incumbent Mayor Vicente Eusebio. No one was hurt.

A woman running for vice mayor in Paracale town in Camarines Norte, on the southern tip of the main island of Luzon, escaped unhurt when unknown assailants hurled a grenade near a car she was riding. A supporter was hurt by shrapnel, police said.

In another incident in Mindanao, armed men strafed the town hall of Munai in Lanao del Norte province. The area was near the meeting being held by administration candidate for governor Pax Mangadadatu. No one was hurt.

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