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Aquino Attends Memorial Rites for 3 Americans Slain Near Base

November 01, 1987|United Press International

CLARK AIR BASE, Philippines — President Corazon Aquino attended memorial services Saturday for three Americans killed in separate but apparently coordinated attacks outside Clark Air Base.

"I know how the widows felt," said Aquino, whose husband was assassinated in 1983.

"I know that I had to go out to offer my condolences," Aquino told U.S. officials, according to her spokesman, Teodoro Benigno.

The Philippine president flew by helicopter to the U.S. air base, 50 miles north of Manila, and under heavy security took a wreath of yellow carnations to Chapel No. 1 where she attended the 35-minute service.

Assailants, still unidentified, shot and killed the three men in separate attacks in a 15-minute period Wednesday in Angeles, a liberty town outside the base. A Filipino also was killed when he tried to protect one of the Americans.

Aquino later met with the weeping widows and relatives of Airman 1st Class Steven M. Faust, 22, of Pasadena, Tex., and Sgt. Randy A. Davis, 30, of Portland, Ore. The two men's bodies will be flown today to Travis Air Force Base, Calif. The body of the third American, retired Tech. Sgt. Herculano Manganti who is of Filipino descent, was at a funeral parlor at Angeles.

"You just have to believe that God will take care of you," Aquino told the women.

"He did it in my case. It is difficult to accept now. Sometimes, you wonder why these things happen, the reason for all this. If there's anything I can do, please let me know," she said.

Aquino, in her first visit to Clark--home of the 13th Air Force--since becoming president 20 months ago, later met with about 700 Filipino soldiers assigned to the base and expressed gratitude for their support of her government.

Angeles Police Chief Amado Espino told Aquino that initial reports indicated that .38-caliber guns were used in some of the shootings. He said he was awaiting a ballistics report to see if the bullets that killed the airmen matched those from .38-caliber pistols seized from four admitted guerrillas arrested in Angeles on Thursday.

The Alex Boncayao Brigade, a hit squad of the 23,000-member communist New People's Army, denied a news report that it had claimed responsibility for the attacks.

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