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Two Arrested in Slaying of Marine

From Associated Press

Police on Monday arrested two Filipinos suspected of shooting to death an American Marine from El Toro near the U.S. Subic Bay Naval Base.

But some police officials expressed doubt that the two, identified as drug addicts, are the real killers of Gunnery Sgt. John Fredette, 34. Police initially blamed Communist rebels.

After the slaying Friday, the U.S. military banned off-post leaves for the 40,000 troops, Defense Department civilians and military dependents at the six U.S. bases in the Philippines. The restrictions have not been lifted despite the arrests, military officials said.

Police Lt. Col. MacArthur Torres said witnesses “positively identified” the two arrested men--Reynato Angeles, 33, and William Burke, 24. Both denied involvement in the killing.

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The two men were presented briefly to reporters.

Burke, who said his father is a retired U.S. serviceman, was in tears. “I was framed,” he said. “I do not know anything about the shooting.”

A witness, Buddy Young, said he saw the men running from the scene of the shooting and Angeles tucking away a gun as he ran.

Torres said the murder weapon--believed to be a .38-caliber pistol--has not been found.

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No group has claimed responsibility for killing Fredette, who was on temporary duty in the Philippines from the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.

Police initially speculated that the killers were Communist rebels. Robbery did not appear to be the motive because Fredette’s watch and wallet were not taken, police said.

On Sunday, however, police officials said they believe that the rebels were not involved and that Fredette was either killed by mistake or in a drug deal.

But police sources said on condition of anonymity Monday that some senior officials still suspect that the killers are members of the Communist New People’s Army.

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These sources said civilian authorities are eager to exonerate the rebels so the Navy will lift restrictions on its personnel. The economies of Olongapo and Angeles, home of Clark Air Base, depend heavily on spending by off-duty military personnel.

Fredette’s brother, Mark Fredette, 32, said Monday in a brief telephone interview from Chicopee, Mass., that the drug-deal scenario was “absurd. . . . There’s no way possible in our minds and in our hearts that it’s drug-related.”

Earlier this month, Philippine military officials warned that the New People’s Army planned to kill an American in Olongapo before talks begin next Monday on extending the lease on the six U.S. bases. The lease expires in September, 1991.

President Corazon Aquino has refused to say whether she supports an extension of the lease. Opponents say the bases infringe upon Philippine sovereignty.

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