Armed Forces Chief Gen. Fidel V. Ramos flew today to a rebellion-racked central Philippine island and urged residents to help end a widespread communist insurgency.
At least 114 people have been killed in rebel attacks in the three weeks since Corazon Aquino became president, despite her release of political prisoners and attempts to work out a cease-fire.
Ramos called on residents to cooperate with the military in working toward peace and progress for Negros, 300 miles south of Manila.
"What we want to ensure now is the security of the people . . . and not just the security of a few individuals," said Ramos, a key figure in the rebellion that ousted President Ferdinand E. Marcos last month.
Sugar Industry Collapse
Rebel activity escalated dramatically in Negros after the collapse two years ago of the sugar industry brought about by low world prices.
The island's insurgency also worsened because of abuses by the military, which was accused of violating human rights and spreading terror by setting up private armies for Marcos' friends.
Ramos flew to the island with about 150 soldiers in a transport plane carrying medical supplies as part of a civic program sponsored by the military. The group returned to Manila in the afternoon.
Earlier, three countryside clashes were reported by military authorities or news media, including a fight in Cagayan province north of Manila that left 23 people dead.
Human Rights Panel
In another development, Aquino today formed a seven-member committee to investigate human rights violations under Marcos. The committee will be headed by Jose W. Diokno, 64, a respected former senator who was jailed for two years after Marcos declared martial law in 1972.
Aquino, in her campaign for the Feb. 7 presidential election, promised the prisoner release and a six-month cease-fire with the guerrillas, whose armed followers are estimated between 12,000 and 30,000.