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100,000 Leftists in Manila Rally to Mourn Unionist

November 20, 1986|From Times Wire Services

MANILA — More than 100,000 Filipino leftists and Communists joined an 11-hour funeral procession carrying the flag-draped coffin of a slain leftist leader in the biggest demonstration since President Corazon Aquino assumed power eight months ago.

Thousands more lined the 20-mile funeral route for trade union leader Rolando Olalia, 52, who was kidnaped and killed last week.

It was the largest and most open display of flags, banners and personalities from the underground left in the heart of Manila since the beginning of the 17-year-old Communist insurgency.

Many marchers wore T-shirts with the hammer and sickle symbol. They raised clenched fists and chanted, "Long live the Communist Party of the Philippines" and other leftist and anti-military slogans.

Cheering office workers pelted the noisy but peaceful crowd with yellow confetti as the procession accompanying the bodies of Olalia and his slain driver, Leonir Alayay, made its way from the University of the Philippines chapel through the heart of Manila to a suburban cemetery. Yellow is Aquino's trademark color.

The two victims were lowered into their graves at 9 p.m., nearly 11 hours after the procession began.

Stopped at Palace

The march earlier stopped 500 yards from Malacanang Palace, the seat of government, which was sealed off by barbed wire barricades and hundreds of police.

Olalia's widow, Feliciana, handed two senior officials a letter for Aquino that was read aloud. It urged "swift justice" for the killers and implored Aquino to "draw your strength from the masses now at your doorstep" and confront "extreme rightists." Her husband's supporters blame rightist forces loyal to Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile for the unsolved murders.

Nick Elman, an official of the May 1st Movement, called on Aquino to "make a decision with our help to dismantle the remnants of fascism in our country." Aquino did not appear.

Riot-control equipment was deployed along the march route, but no serious incidents were reported.

Groups of young men broke off from the crowd and painted slogans hailing the Communist New People's Army on walls.

'Long Way From Imprisonment'

"I am exhilarated by this after 15 years," said Satur Ocampo of the Communist-dominated National Democratic Front. He had been jailed under the rule of Ferdinand E. Marcos until his 1985 escape and now represents the rebels in peace talks with the government. "It's a long way from 9 1/2 years of imprisonment under the Marcos regime."

The crowd chanted slogans against "military fascists" and against Enrile, a sharp critic of Aquino's policy of negotiating with Communist rebels.

Aquino told an investment seminar today that her administration had "broadened the leeway for reasonable dissent," but that "we cannot tolerate any plan to undermine the authority of the government and the stability of Philippine society."

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