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Philippine Navy Lieutenant Slain on Manila Street

November 17, 1987|From Times Wire Services

MANILA — Assassins posing as street basketball players dribbled a ball up to a Philippine navy lieutenant Monday, then shot and killed him, police said.

Two assailants were dressed in jogging pants and played with a basketball, authorities said, as they waited for Lt. Celso dela Cruz at a bus stop near the officer's home in Manila's Pandacan district.

When Dela Cruz took his seat in a passenger jeep, one of the men dribbled the ball toward him, and then shot the lieutenant at close range, police Cpl. Elpidio Pinzon said. Dela Cruz was dead on arrival at a hospital.

Pinzon said the "the style looks like that of the Sparrows," referring to Communist assassins blamed for more than 130 such slayings in Manila this year.

On Friday, suspected Communist rebels killed an army officer as he sat in his car at a traffic light.

The Dela Cruz slaying came one day after the arrest of Juanito Rivera, alleged vice chairman of the Communist Party and a reputed expert in political assassinations. Military officials said Rivera has been charged with subversion and is being questioned.

Also Monday, the air force ordered an investigation into a helicopter crash Sunday night that killed a top Philippine general and seven other soldiers.

In Zamboanga City, 550 miles south of Manila, a spokesman said that Brig. Gen. Arturo Asuncion, 48, deputy military commander for the Southern Command and the youngest general in the military, was killed when his helicopter crashed on Basilan Island.

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