Mon, May 29, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Philippine activist killed in drive-by shooting incident

AP , MANILA

Gunmen killed a left-wing activist in a province near the Philippine capital, police said yesterday, and his colleagues blamed the military for his death.

Noli Capulong, a founding member of the left-wing political group Bayan, was fatally shot four times by two men on a motorcycle as he drove his car through the village of Parian in Laguna Province late on Saturday, according to Arman Albarillo, a regional Bayan leader.

Capulong, 51, died instantly, Albarillo said.

Shortly before his death, Capulong had attended a meeting at which he defended dozens of impoverished families facing eviction from private land in the village.

Police officer Ulysses Rabe said he didn't know who was responsible for the murder but that police were investigating. Bayan secretary, Renato Reyes, said his group suspected the military may have been behind Capulong's death, along with the murders of other left-wing activists who military officials have linked to communist guerrillas.

The military has denied any hand in the killings.

Albarillo said he had recently cautioned Capulong that his life could be in peril. Capulong also wrote a left-wing column for a local newspaper.

"I warned him just three days ago to be careful," Albarillo said. "He replied that I should be careful as well and added that if he's attacked, he would be happy to die serving the country."

Karapatan, a local human-rights group, has named nearly 600 civilians, mostly left-wing activists, who it suspects have been killed by government forces or their agents since 2001.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ordered the police to investigate the attacks.

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