Quezon City, Jan. 24, 2003 (Malaya) - Romulo Kintanar, former chief of the New People's Army general command, was assassinated by at least two men in a Japanese restaurant in Quezon City yesterday.

Investigators said the killing of Kintanar, 50, bore the stamp of the Alex Boncayao Brigade, the NPA urban hit squad.

Senior Supt. Napoleon Castro, Central Police District chief, said Kintanar, a consultant in the Bureau of Immigration, was hit at least eight times, once in the head. He died on the spot.

Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes said last night intelligence reports point to the NPA as behind the killing.

"Ka Rolly is a natural target for assassination for some time now. Our intelligence reports point to that direction. Ka Rolly had been with the government. It is unfortunate that this happened," he said.

Asked on the possibility that a military man was responsible, he said: "I would not subscribe to that, most unlikely."

Castro said Kintanar was having lunch at the Kamameshi House at the Quezon Memorial Circle with a certain Ed Ruiz, Ricky Beltran and another unidentified companion when the gunmen approached and shot him with a .45 caliber gun and a 9mm pistol.

Ruiz was hit in the left part of the body while Beltran was hit by a stray bullet in the leg.

The fate of the third companion was not immediately known.

A waiter told investigators that one of the gunmen was of slim build, about 5'6 to 5'7 and was in white shirt and jeans. He said the killer casually walked away from the scene.

Police were investigating if the suspects took off with Kintanar's firearm. Investigators said the victim's clutch bag containing his gun, identification cards and wallet were missing.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Police intelligence sources, however, said Kintanar had been under threat from his former comrades.

A senior police official said police have received reports that Kintanar was included in the NPA "hit list" last year.

Kintanar was 18 and a freshman at the Ateneo de Davao when he joined the NPA.

He became one of the leaders and even once plotted to stage a revolt against Ferdinand Marcos in 1985.

He was expelled by the CPP executive committee due to differences with Sison after the 1986 Edsa people power revolution.

Kintanar, Dela Cruz, Felimon Lagman, Arturo Tabara and others rejected Sison's document "Reaffirm our Basic Principles and Rebuild the Party."

Kintanar carried a P1,000,000 reward on his head when he and his wife, Maria Gloria Jopson, were captured on March 29, 1988 in the company of Rafael Baylosis, head of the Philippines military commission, Benjamin de Vera, central committee member and Marco Palo.

The Kintanars escaped from Camp Crame on Nov. 12 of the same year.

They were recaptured on Aug. 5, 1991 by troops of the PNP Highway Patrol Group at the Makati Medical Center where he had supposedly gone to undergo a facelift.

He was released in 1992 at the height of the split between top CPP leaders.

He did not rejoin his former comrades and instead concentrated on organizing cooperatives.

State Prosecutor Mark Jalandoni said Kintanar's death would not affect the resolution of the preliminary investigation in the murder of actress Nida Blanca in November of 2001.

Kintanar is a principal witness on the parricide and murder case against Blanca's husband Rod Strunk and Philip Medel.

Jalandoni said Kintanar affirmed his affidavit dated April 2, 2002.

State Prosecutor Manuel Velasco, who handled the first preliminary investigation of the Blanca case, said it was Kintanar who opened the door for the identification of Philip Medel as the one who may have killed the actress.

Velasco said it was before Kintanar whom Medel, an acquaintance, allegedly blurted out during a drinking spree that he had something to do with the killing.

Kintanar reported this to Immigration Commissioner Andrea Domingo who in turn referred it to then PNP chief Leandro Mendoza who referred it to Senior Supt. Nestor Gualberto, former chief of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group. (Malaya)

All rights reserved