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Communist Rebels Attack Near Manila

September 28, 1987|Associated Press

MANILA — Government troops battled Communist rebels Sunday north of Manila, and officials said that residents in the capital could face electricity shortages because of guerrilla raids on power stations.

The regional constabulary command in Malolos, about 40 miles north of Manila in Bulacan province, said three helicopter gunships and a company of marines were sent to help troops battle Communist New People's Army guerrillas.

A constabulary officer said that at least three soldiers were killed and several were wounded. He had no reports of rebel losses.

The fighting followed renewed rebel activity last week in the five-province Bicol region of southeastern Luzon Island, where rebels have destroyed five bridges and railroad lines.

The Philippines' chief of staff, Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, ordered troops on full alert in central Luzon, which includes Bulacan, because of fears that attacks in Bicol are a diversion for assaults on provinces closer to Manila.

Intelligence reports indicated the guerrillas might attack factories and power plants in the Bataan peninsula, about 30 miles west of the capital across Manila Bay.

Ramos ordered two battalions of elite troops to reinforce units in Bicol after the rebels virtually cut off land transport routes between Manila and southeastern Luzon.

Military officials said the army cannot spare more reinforcements because of continuing fears of a new coup attempt in Manila by mutineers loyal to Col. Gregorio (Gringo) Honasan, who led an abortive coup Aug. 28.

Honasan is believed hiding in Manila or central Luzon, protected by civilian and military officials who oppose President Corazon Aquino.

The military said rebels also stepped up attacks on Panay Island, about 200 miles southeast of Manila. Rebels last week cut off power to several communities there, according to news reports.

During a radio call-in show Sunday, Aquino condemned the Communists for provoking violence.

"We can see that this is not doing us any good. Maybe the Filipinos can see through these people (the rebels), who claim they are the saviors of the nation," she said.

In Manila, an official of the National Power Corp. said rebel attacks were responsible for brownouts in the capital last week.

Jose Ramas, the corporation's vice president for systems operation, said rebels reduced Manila's electricity supply by destroying five transmission towers in Quezon and Camarines Sur provinces.

Ramas said Manila may experience intermittent power outages for a month until repairs are made.

In Bicol, government television said that infantrymen, backed by helicopter gunships, began searching the hills around Polangui in Bicol's Albay province for rebels. Officials said hundreds of civilians have fled their homes to escape the fighting.

Also on Sunday, Vice President Salvador Laurel said he asked Aquino to declassify a report by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency that allegedly identifies Communist sympathizers in the government.

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