Filipino Police, Rebels Fight Near Presidential Palace
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Police and Communist rebels fought a running gun battle early Wednesday about one mile from the presidential palace, and police said one policeman and a suspected rebel were killed.
In other developments:
-The U.S. Navy banned most non-essential travel to Manila because of threats to Americans.
-The military said Communist rebels killed 15 troopers last Saturday on southern Mindanao island and shot dead a Filipino executive of the Nestle’s company in an ambush Monday southeast of Manila.
Police Sgt. Florentino Bagallon gave this account of the Wednesday shootout:
At 4 a.m. police spotted about four youths painting Communist slogans on a lane divider in Manila’s Santa Mesa district.
They gave chase and the youths lured them into a dark street where about 12 rebel gunmen waited in ambush.
Rebels pulled M-16 rifles from a sack and fired, killing Constable 1st Class Roxy Valguna. Officers radioed for reinforcements, who killed one rebel during a running gun fight through the crowded residential district.
Another rebel was arrested.
The incident came on the eve of the 21st anniversary of the New People’s Army, the military wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines.
Police have predicted stepped up guerrilla activity in connection with the anniversary.
At the U.S.-run Subic Naval Base, 50 miles west of Manila, Rear Adm. Roger Rich banned most non-essential travel to the capital by the more than 6,000 sailors because of ″threats against U.S. military and military associated personnel.″
Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Mukri said the order, issued Monday, bans leaves in Manila except for servicemen with immediate family members residing there.
The order does not apply to personnel at Clark Air Base, 50 miles north of Manila. Air Force officials said Clark personnel were told not to travel between the base and Manila at night.
The military said 12 militiamen and three soldiers were killed Saturday in the ambush of a patrol by guerrillas in Davao del Sur province, 620 miles southeast of Manila. It said three troopers were wounded and 11 were missing.
Two rebels died in the 30-minute gunbattle, the report said.
On Monday, Froilan Pablo, executive vice president of Nestle’s Philippines, was slain by four gunmen as he played tennis in Cabuyao, 25 miles southeast of Manila. The killers escaped.
Police said they believed the attackers belonged to a rebel assassination squad that targeted Pablo because of labor problems at his company.
Col. Jose Lachica, operations chief of the National Capital Region Defense Command, predicted more rebel attacks on business executives.