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Philippines Mayoral Candidate Killed

May 11, 2001

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ILOILO, Philippines (AP) _ Police arrested the mayor of a Philippine town after his rival was stabbed in the back and fatally shot Friday, three days before local and congressional elections.

The death of Jesus Sibya, a mayoral candidate in San Joaquin in Iloilo province, brings to 53 the number of election-related killings since April 1, police said.

Police in Iloilo, some 280 miles southeast of Manila, said Sibya was stabbed in the back then shot in the head and groin after an argument with Mayor Sebastian Serag and several of his supporters.

Hours later, police arrested Serag, who is seeking re-election. There were no immediate charges brought against him, and it was unclear if police were contending that he himself did the stabbing or shooting.

Some 17,600 municipal, provincial and congressional officials are to be elected in midterm voting Monday.

Local elections have traditionally been violent in the Philippines, particularly in remote areas afflicted by outlaws and armed followers of politicians.

In metropolitan Manila on Thursday night, an explosion at a political rally slightly injured 13 people. Police Capt. Mariano Rodriguez said the blast may have been caused by a small bomb or fireworks but police do not yet know if it was intentional.

The rally in Manila’s San Juan district, the home of jailed former President Joseph Estrada, was held for candidates of the Liberal Party, part of the government’s ruling coalition.

Despite police warnings of a potential violence, an anti-graft court ruled Friday that Estrada may vote Monday in his home district of San Juan, part of metropolitan Manila, but must immediately return to his cell. Estrada, jailed April 25 on corruption charges, is accused of illegally amassing $82 million during 31 months in office. He denies any wrongdoing.

About 50,000 of Estrada’s supporters tried to storm the presidential palace May 1, demanding that his replacement, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, resign. At least six people died in clashes with security forces.

Monday’s elections are seen as a proxy war between Arroyo and Estrada. Polls show pro-administration candidates ahead in most races.

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