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The explosion in the early hours of February 11, 2020 may have shook MV Virgen de Peñafrancia VI but it will never be enough for the good people of San Pascual to tremble and cower.

The initial investigation of the incident revealed that on February 11, 2020 at around three o’clock in the morning (3:00 AM), a group of unidentified men threw a dynamite at M/V Virgen de Peñafrancia VI while the same was docked at San Pascual Port, Masbate. The explosion damaged some life rings and the air-conditioning system of the ship. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.

Immediately upon learning of the incident, with close coordination with the Municipal Police Force of San Pascual, I ordered the tightening of the police security at the port to avoid further incident. I likewise lend LGU resources to aid the police force in the pursuit of the persons responsible. This close coordination, immediate action, and heightened security paved the way to the immediate resumption of the operation of M/V Virgen de Peñafrancia VI just an hour after the explosion which continues undisturbed and uninterrupted to this very day.

The police investigation continues, and I have made the capture of the culprits as my top priority. This task by itself is already challenging but what made it more difficult are the malicious imputation of extortion and my alleged direct hand in the explosion being circulated in the media.

This is a classic example of irresponsible journalism designed to favor one - a one sided reporting. A reading of these news reports showed that they went beyond decent reporting to outright imputation of corruption. The real facts were never in their mind. Had it been their main concern, the writers would not have exaggerated the extent of the damage and falsely painted a magnificent picture of one while discrediting the other.

There is no truth to the allegations of extortion and the raising of the fare. I can easily dispute these baseless accusations as false. Also, I vehemently deny the claim that I had a direct hand in the explosion. In fact, the result of the most recent police investigation already revealed the ring leader behind this dastardly act based on the blotter report made by the representative of M/V Virgen de Peñafrancia VI. Not having to do with what happened and not having done what they alleged, I believe that these news articles should be taken down as this is the most decent thing to do.

To my mind, the operation of M/V Virgen de Peñafrancia VI is still, without a doubt, a welcomed development in San Pascual, Masbate. I consider the same as a potential partner towards economic growth. I believe that the discovery of the true culprit can create an avenue to better realize this potential partnership.

This passed days had been very difficult. And I know this may not be the last. Political opponents and detractors may see this as an opportunity for them to question my leadership. But I realized that situations like this comes with the territory. One cannot be considered a mayor nowadays, if one went unscathed. What matters now is the job I swore to perform and the people I swore to protect. Knowing this, I will continue my close coordination with the San Pascual Police Force until the culprits are brought to justice.

To the people of San Pascual, Masbate, let us remain strong and vigilant. I humbly ask from all of you to continue to support me. Let us work together to ensure that San Pascual will remain a safe place to live in for all our families.

(Sgd.) MAXIM LAZARO Municipal Mayor – San Pascual, Masbate

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