LEGAZPI CITY, May 2 (PNA) -- Operatives of Task Force Masbate (TFM) arrested the leader of one of the private armed groups (PAGs) in the province at about 2 a.m. Sunday in Barangay (village) Pulang Duta in Balud town, Masbate province.
Police Senior Insp. Arthur Gomez, TFM spokesperson said the arresting officers cornered Oriel Avila Villaruel, who did not resist arrest, at his residence.
Villaruel is the suspected leader of the Villaruel PAG operating in the island-province of Masbate, Gomez said in a text message.
They found in Villaruel's possession a hand grenade and a .45-caliber handgun with ammunition.
Gomez said the suspect leads a 12-man PAG whose members are reportedly known supporters of the Kho and the Bilasano political clans.
He said 10 PAG members and two leaders have already been arrested since the start of the election period,and are now in the custody of the Masbate Provincial Police Office detention center.
The detained armed group members belong to the Arizobal, Villaruel, Del Rosario, Galvo and Velasco PAGs -- which all are affiliated with the Kho, Bilasano and Vertucio clans while the Tagkaru PAG is affiliated with the Lanetes, Gomez said.
He said they are still tracking down 20 other members belonging to six armed groups.
The TFM have so far seized 167 loose and surrendered firearms and eight explosives. (PNA) JMC/FGS/MSA/CBD/EBP