4 killed, 7 hurt in Masbate blast

By Cet Dematera and Mar S. Arguelles


Four persons, including a village chieftain, were killed while seven others were injured in a dynamite explosion in Barangay Pajo, Balud, Masbate at around 12:55 PM on Monday, June 14.


General Jonnel Estomo, Bicol police director, identified the victims as Lina Recto, barangay captain of Pajo; Mac-Mac Dela Cruz; Ronelyn Bulala; and, Aisa Sese.


Estomo said that the Masbate provincial police office received report at around 1:15 PM that a very strong explosion was heard inside the house of the Recto.


He said that the bodies of the victims were charred and beyond recognition when retrieved by the responding policemen.


Seven more persons were rushed to the nearby Balud Municipal Hospital due to injuries from the explosion. They were identified as John Paul Badahos, 12; Chris Bagaipo,7; Ivan Mahilum, 20; Junvin Badahos, 24; Tessie Badahos, 59; Leonard Amistoso, 42; and Ruel Henticay Chavez, 26.


Estomo said he already dispatched a team to investigate what happened that led to the explosion.


He also warned the public not to store dynamites inside their houses as these prohibited items are dangerous.


In a related development, five sacks of ammonium nitrate being loaded by two male suspects to a motorized boat docked at the port in Milagros town in Masbate in the afternoon of June 14 were seized by police operatives, a police report said.


Arrested were Nilo Mandaue, 51, a businessman of Barangay Gilotongan, Cawayan town and Joel Pacheco, 43, of Barangay Poblacion East, Milagros town, according to Major Maria Luisa Calubaquib, Bicol police spokesperson.


The suspects were caught in the act of loading the sacks of ammonium nitrate for transport to neighboring coastal towns in the province.


Police believed that the sacks of ammonium nitrate are intended to produce explosives for blast fishing.


The arrest of the two suspects is in line with the government campaign against blast fishing, an illegal fishing practice that is rampant in the coastal waters of Masbate.


Ammonium nitrate is a chemical material used for agriculture fertilizers or to make explosives.