Masbate raid nets bomb materials; PNP starts hunt for businessman
LEGAZPI CITY—Police on Thursday started hunting a businessman in Aroroy town in Masbate province after a raid in his warehouse in a remote village there on Wednesday yielded materials used in making explosives.
The businessman, Alfredo Banganiban, a native of the mining town of Aroroy, is engaged in the trade of chemicals and devices used in making explosives, with fishermen and small-scale miners as his clients, said Senior Insp. Arthur Gomez, spokesperson of the police’s Regional Special Operations Task Group (RSOTG) in Masbate.
Gomez said policemen, armed with a search warrant, raided Panganiban’s warehouse in Barangay (village) Calanay at 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday.
They seized 113 sacks of ammonium nitrate, five pairs of blasting caps with fuse, a detonating cord and a .45 cal. handgun.
Gomez, in a telephone interview, said Panganiban was included in the RSOTG watch list because his clients included people engaged in illegal fishing and illegal mining.
He said police were also looking for Panganiban’s business partners as they suspected them to be engaged in selling bomb making materials to armed groups and communist rebels.
Senior Supt. Alexander Sampaga, in a statement, said while ammonium nitrate is used in agriculture as fertilizer, this chemical may be used as a key ingredient in the manufacture of land mines and homemade bombs.
Members of the government’s Task Force Masbate have been stationed in Masbate since Feb. 9 to secure the province in the run-up to the May 9 elections.
The Commission on Elections and the police have included Masbate in the list of areas of concern in this year’s elections due to intense political rivalries and the presence of private armed groups and New People’s Army rebels in the province. RAM
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