Top Philippine military officials called today for more aggressive action against Communist insurgents in the countryside in response to an upsurge of attacks by the rebels.
Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile vowed to avenge the killing yesterday by rebels of a mayor who was a childhood friend in the northern province of Cagayan.
"While we respect the call of our president for unity and reconciliation," Enrile said, "we cannot allow innocent civilians and our soldiers to be butchered by dissident elements." He ordered government troops to hunt down the ambushers "without letup until they are accounted for."
Enrile's statement, reflecting the tougher stance by the military, could add to tension between civilian and military leaders in the government of Corazon Aquino. She made a campaign promise to call a six-month cease-fire and dialogue with rebel groups and, despite objections from the military, has released top Communist leaders from jail.
A military report said the mayor, Francisco Baclig, two soldier escorts and his driver were killed Wednesday when a rebel band ambushed them with automatic rifle fire in Gonzaga municipality, about 250 miles north of Manila.
According to the official Philippine News Agency quoting military reports from the field, at least 132 persons have been killed in insurgency-related incidents since Aquino took power three weeks ago in a military rebellion that ousted Ferdinand Marcos.
The regional commander for central Luzon, Brig. Gen. Lorenzo Mateo, today ordered search-and-destroy missions against the Communist insurgents in five provinces. Included were the areas around Clark Air Base and the Subic Bay Naval Base, the two largest U.S. military bases overseas.
"With the continuing escalation of attacks by the insurgents against military detachments, we have no choice but to face them squarely," Mateo said.
In separate incidents of violence elsewhere, the government news agency reported that 300 rebels attacked a military detachment yesterday, killing eight and wounding three others in Sindangan in the province of Zamboanga del Norte, about 460 miles south of Manila.
In contrast to the military's sharp reaction to the upsurge of attacks, the government responded in a low-key way to the seizure today of a government radio station here by about 300 leftist militants.
Control of the radio station was crucial in the military rebellion last month. Troops loyal to Aquino took over the radio affiliate of Channel 4 television in a key victory against Marcos.
A spokesman for the militants in today's takeover, Roger Lagasca, demanded the ouster of employes who he said were still Marcos loyalists who "fed wrong information to the public."
But station manager Jose Marie Velez, appointed after Aquino became president, said the demonstrators "are the true Marcos loyalists who simply want to take the station and broadcast themselves."
Officials closed three other government radio stations linked to a common transmitter after the protesters broadcast their demands. Troops secured the suburban communications station to protect equipment but did not dislodge the demonstrators pending the outcome of their talks with Information Minister Theodore Locsin.
In another development, Justice Minister Neptali Gonzales saw Aquino for the third time in four days to discuss the work of a commission on the constitution, which is debating whether to follow the existing constitutional framework in the new government or turn to a "revolutionary" approach.