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Captured Communist Hitmen Linked Killing of U.S. Colonel

December 27, 1995

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Two rebels captured in a government crackdown on leftist guerrillas are suspected in the 1989 killing of U.S. Army colonel, officials said today.

U.S. Army Col. James ``Nick″ Rowe was ambushed on April 21, 1989, as he was being driven to his office in suburban Quezon City. Two others convicted in the killing are serving life prison terms.

The new suspects were identified as Orlando Bondalian Jr. and Ruperto Lopez Jr. Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan accused them today of taking part in the attack on Rowe. They have not yet been charged with the crime.

Rowe, 51, was chief of the army division at the Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group, which provides training and logistical support for the 111Filipino army.

The interior secretary said Bondalian, alleged intelligence officer of the Alex Boncayao Brigade, was captured Saturday in a series of raids on a guerrilla band accused in the Dec. 11 killing of a Chinese-Filipino businessman and his driver.

Police said Bondalian was the key planner in the killing of business tycoon Leonardo Ty, 82, in suburban Quezon City. They say he also participated in an attack that killed a 5-year-old son of a Singaporean friend of another businessman on the same day.

Lopez, arrested shortly after Bondalian was captured, is suspected of being one of the shooters.

Arresting officers reportedly found handguns in the possession of the suspects and documents detailing their surveillance of prospective targets.

Bondalian, Lopez and a third suspect were charged with illegal gun possession. Bondalian and Lopez also were charged with double murder.

Police sources announced today that a fourth suspect also has been arrested. They said Victorio Ferdines, who uses the alias Marcel Jacinto, is suspected of helping plan the ambush and faces illegal gun possession charges. Police allege Fedines is the brigade’s spokesman and vice chairman.

The government is on a campaign against the Alex Boncayao Brigade, which is accused of killing more than 100 officers and local officials involved in counterinsurgency in the Manila area in the 1980s.

The brigade broke off from the mainstream Communist Party of the Philippines, which has been waging an insurgency for the past 26 years. The party has since denounced the brigade’s methods as counterproductive to the revolutionary cause.

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