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20 Killed in 2 Attacks by Philippine Guerrillas

March 18, 1986|From Times Wire Services

MANILA — Philippine leftist guerrillas ambushed a government jeep and raided a rice warehouse in two separate attacks that left at least 20 people dead, officials said Monday.

Military police officials said that rebels hiding in foxholes along a mountain road Saturday ambushed a government jeep in the coastal municipality of Amlan, in Negros Oriental province almost 400 miles south of Manila, killing 12 people and wounding three.

In Allacapan, Cagayan province, 260 miles north of the capital, about 100 rebels swooped down on a warehouse of the National Food Authority, officials said. Seven troopers and a soldier's wife died and five others were wounded in a five-hour gun battle. They said five soldiers were missing in the incident, which occurred Friday. It was not known if they had been captured.

Up to 15 guerrillas were reported in that raid. There was no word on guerrilla casualties in the Amlan ambush.

The fatalities in the two incidents brought to at least 47 the official number of those killed in major incidents since Corazon Aquino became president last month, succeeding Ferdinand E. Marcos.

Officials in Aquino's administration said that large numbers of guerrillas of the Communist-led New People's Army have expressed interest in calls for establishing a cease-fire but that leaders of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines on Sunday denied that any truce has been declared.

Aquino has said that she will call a six-month cease-fire and hold discussions with rebel forces, but other officials said no truce will be proclaimed unless the rebels indicate that they are willing to lay down their arms.

"I think we should ask the New People's Army leadership if they are interested in reconciliation," Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile said in a television interview.

Workers at Geothermal Plant

Military police officials said that most of those people ambushed in Amlan were employees of the state-run Philippine National Oil Co., which operates a geothermal power plant in the area. The victims--seven oil company employees, three militiamen and two municipal employees--were robbed of their wallets, four pistols, a revolver and many rounds of ammunition. Three people survived the attack.

An oil company spokesman said the geothermal plant employees were on their way home from a meeting with villagers concerning the cutting down of trees on a watershed area when they were attacked.

In other Philippine-related developments, an official of Aquino's government, Deputy Foreign Minister Leticia Shahani, was quoted in a Stockholm interview as saying that Western nations would commit a grave injustice if they insisted that the Philippines repay all its foreign debt--particularly loans incurred by Marcos cronies.

Shahani, the sister of Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, Aquino's military chief of staff, said that a distinction has to be drawn between "bad loans--private, commercial loans--and sovereign loans which the administration has inherited and which in accordance with international law it is bound to honor." The Philippines has a total foreign debt estimated at $25 billion.

Aquino had said that she will seek to renegotiate the foreign debt.

In another matter that has been a source of division with the new regime--the question of whether a revolutionary government should be created or Marcos' 1973 constitution should serve as the basis for Aquino's rule--Justice Minister Neptali Gonzales said the issue has not been resolved.

Referring to a Cabinet commission appointed by Aquino to make recommendations on the question, Gonzales said: "It is possible we may file a majority and a minority opinion. We don't want to tie her hands."

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