CAMP GUILLERMO NAKAR, LUCENA CITY, January 21, 2004 (STAR) By Arnell Ozaeta, Celso Amo And Cet Dematera - Communist rebels killed a Quezon vice mayor and wounded a Catanduanes mayor in separate attacks yesterday, just weeks before fresh peace talks aimed at ending the 35-year-old Marxist insurgency, police said.

At least eight New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas shot dead Eduardo Durante, vice mayor of Burdeos, Quezon, as he waited for a ferry at about 4:30 a.m. on nearby Polilio island.

The rebels also left a note in Tagalog, warning "Do not imitate, he is a (drug) pusher."

Witnesses told police a female guerrilla finished off Durante with two gunshots as he lay bloodied in front of a store where he had eaten while waiting for the ferry.

Senior Superintendent Leo Kison, Quezon police director, said three empty shells of an M-16 rifle and caliber 9-mm. pistol were found at the scene.

Durante was reportedly on his way to Lucena City to attend a meeting of the Liberal Party when he was attacked.

Nearly four hours later, about 100 guerrillas attacked Mayor Armando Guerrero of Gigmoto, Catanduanes at his residence, wounding him, his driver and a female aide, police said.

Guerrero, who is seeking re-election, and other household members engaged the guerrillas in a gunfight. About 50 rebels were seen positioned nearby, apparently waiting to ambush any reinforcements, but the rebels withdrew after a 30-minute gunbattle, police said.

Chief Superintendent Jaime Lasar, Bicol police director, said Guerrero was hit in the right arm, his driver Emmanuel Rodolfo in the left ankle, and aide Antonia Lurenciana in the left knee.

Reports said the rebels, led by one Ka Elmer, urged the mayor to surrender as they positioned themselves in front of his house in Barangay San Vicente, about a kilometer from the town proper.

But Guerrero, along with his driver and bodyguard P02 Venerando Tejada, instead shot it out with the rebels. Outnumbered, they later sneaked out and escaped through the shoreline.

Gigmoto is a coastal town facing the Pacific Ocean. It is about 50 kilometers from the Catanduanes capital town of Virac.

The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, are increasing attacks following party leadership orders, despite a scheduled resumption of peace talks, spokesman Rogelio Rosal said recently.

The rebels killed four soldiers and lost three fighters in an attack on a military detachment guarding a coal-fired power plant operated by the state-run National Power Corp. in Calaca, Batangas earlier this month.

Talks aimed at ending the insurgency are expected to resume on Feb. 10-13 in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.

The government suspended negotiations almost three years ago following the assassination of a former congressman the rebels accused of human rights violations.— With Rene Alviar and AP

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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