LEGAZPI CITY, March 17 (PNA) -- Chief Supt. Augusto Marquez Jr., Philippine National Police Bicol regional director, on Thursday said he has ordered a more rigid security foot and mobile patrol and the setting up of checkpoints and chokepoints, especially in Masbate province.
This after nine successive explosions in different areas caused by improvised explosive devices rocked the province of Masbate on Tuesday morning, causing alarm among authorities and fear among residents.
Despite these blasting incidents, Marquez assured Masbateños of peaceful and clean elections on May 9.
He said that aside from the PNP Special Action Force troops sent earlier by Camp Carme, the 9th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army also sent additional men to Masbate.
In an earlier report to Marquez, Chief Insp. Arthur Gomez, Special Operations Task Group-Masbate (SOTG-Masbate) information officer, said that before the series of explosions occurred, New People's Army (NPA) rebels fired at the detachment of the 22nd Infantry Battalion of the 9th Infantry Brigade and 3rd CAFGU Auxiliary at Sitio Anapog, Barangay Poblacion District 2 in Claveria, Masbate at about 12:35 a.m.
No one was hurt among the soldiers who fired back at the rebels who withdrew towards the mountainous part of the village.
At about 4 a.m., an explosion took place at Barangay Miaga in Uson just near the house of PO1 Benjie Muana, a member of the Uson Municipal Police Station.
Another explosion occurred in the same area at about 5 a.m.
At about the same time, a blast was heard along the road of Barangay Tunga in Esperanza town.
Ten minutes later, another explosion followed along the national highway in Barangay Tunga, about one and one-half kilometer from the Esperanza municipal hall.
Then at 6:55 a.m., a bomb went off in Barangay Crossing in Uson.
Another sound of an explosion was heard at 7:15 a.m. along the national highway at Purok 5, Barangay Tabuc, Mobo town.
While the group of Senior Insp. Aldrin Rosales, Batuan chief of police, was patrolling on board a Mahindra patrol jeep at Barangay Burgos, Batuan, at 8:50 a.m., another bomb burst near the vehicle, injuring Rosales and one of his men identified as SPO1 Amando Albiola.
The two officers were rushed to the hospital while the jeep had holes.
Another blast broke the silence at Barangay Ilaya, Balud at 10:40 a.m., followed by another at 10:50 a.m. in Sitio Landing, Barangay Washington, San Jacinto.
Gomez said the series of explosions done by the NPA was to make its presence in Masbate felt, especially now that the May 9 elections are fast approaching.
The events were also part of the founding anniversary celebration of the rebel group on March 29, he added. (PNA) JMC/FGS/JH/CBD/EBP