President Corazon Aquino said today on the eve of nationwide village elections that pro-Communist candidates who are voted into office in the balloting can serve if they are freely and fairly chosen.

The military claims the rebels will use the vote to expand their base.Also Monday, the rebels claimed they have recovered from setbacks suffered during Aquino's administration, and police said three men shot up the home of an anti-communist activist near Cebu, killing three people, including the man's wife.

On Tuesday, voters in the country's 42,000 villages, or "barangays," will select about 287,567 local council members.

The military claims the rebels are backing pro-Marxist candidates in hopes of solidifying their control in thousands of rural villages.

Aquino was asked if the government would prevent rebel supporters from claiming council seats. The Communist Party of the Philippines is banned, but Tuesday's balloting is supposed to be non-partisan.