POWERFUL  BLAST  HITS  MASBATE  BEFORE  GMA  PRESIDED  CABINET  MEETING
 
PLACER, MASBATE, JULY 16, 2008 (STAR) By Paolo Romero  – A powerful blast hit this remote town before dawn yesterday, hours before President Arroyo presided over a Cabinet meeting. No one was reported injured.

The Chief Executive arrived here at about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday for the joint Cabinet and National Disaster Coordinating Council meeting, which was also attended by NDCC chairman Gilbert Teodoro, Undersecretary Anthony Golez and Department of Transportation Undersecretary for Maritime Services Elena Bautista.

Because of the incident, attending Cabinet officials, who were supposed to travel two hours in a convoy by land from Masbate City, were instead ferried by helicopter to the Celera Innocencio Central School quadrangle, the venue of the meeting.

Mrs. Arroyo came in a helicopter from Calbayog City in Samar where she met the Philippine Airlines Express inaugural flight from Manila to the province.

Police Officer 3 Romulo Balolot, who inspected the blast site, said the explosion occurred at 3 a.m. in Barangay Ban-ao about three kilometers away from the venue of the Cabinet meeting.

He said a civilian who lives about 400 meters from the explosion reported the incident.

He said communist rebels were believed to be behind the detonation of an improvised land mine. A nearby vehicle was damaged, he said.

The blast left a large crater and some shrapnel, wires and an “electronic-looking device” were found near the site, he said.

When asked whether the blast was linked to Mrs. Arroyo’s visit, Balolot said the communist rebels might have intended it for patrolling Army troops following a recent clash with New People’s Army guerrillas that left some soldiers dead.

Communist rebels ambushed troops from the army’s 9th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Bacagay in Mobo town, some 50 kilometers from Placer, yesterday.

No one was hurt in the attack.

However, an Army trooper was killed in another encounter in Barangay Villafuerto, Uson. – With Celso Amo, James Mananghaya


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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