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Seven Soldiers Charged With Allowing Rebel Leader To Escape

November 18, 1988

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ The military filed charges against seven soldiers today, accusing them of negligence in the prison escape of the reputed leader of the communist rebel forces.

Romulo Kintanar, 41, described by the military as the commander of the 25,000-strong communist New People’s Army, and his wife escaped Nov. 12.

Military prosecutors charged former stockade commander Maj. Robelito Comilang, two other officers and four enlisted guards with negligence and with allowing Kintanar to leave his cell to attend a birthday party.

Comilang said he invited the Kintanars to his birthday party at his quarters next to the stockade at Camp Crame, headquarters of the Philippine Constabulary. When guards returned to take Kintanar and his wife back to their cells, they had disappeared, the military says.

An officer at the constabulary’s Judge Advocate General’s Office said the seven could face dismissal from service or imprisonment if convicted.

When Kintanar and his wife were arrested in Manila in March, the military hailed the arrest as a major blow to the 19-year communist insurgency. Kintanar was also believed to have organized urban guerrilla squads responsible for killing hundreds of police and soldiers in Philippine cities since 1985.

In a letter published today by two Manila newspapers, Kintanar said he and his wife have ″succeeded in rejoining our comrades and our people in the countryside to actively contribute our humble share in our people’s continuing struggle for national freedom and social liberation.″

Kintanar urged the military to show ″understanding″ for prison guards who face disciplinary action in connection with the escape.

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