Capt. Ronnel Cabagnan, head of the Civil-Military Operations of the Army 31st Infantry Battalion, identified the victims as Romeo, 38, and Visitacion, 40, both surnamed Mariscotes, an 11-year-old girl, and lawyer Merda Paterson, a retired Ombudsman investigator.
The victims were on board a car that was negotiating the road near the Delta Homes Subdivision in the Sitio Tico-Tico in Barangay Homapon when the explosion occurred at around 10 a.m. They were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of shrapnel wounds.
GLOBE CELL SITE TORCHED
More than seven hours earlier, a Globe cell site in the village was set on fire by the same group of NPA rebels that planted the APM on the road, the military report said.
Cabagnan said the torching of the cell site happened at around 2:30 a.m.
According to residents, they sighted a group of still unidentified people roaming around the Globe facility before the fire broke out.
Apparently, the rebels poured gasoline at the cabinet that houses three rectifiers, micro antenna, and other equipment at the cell site.
Capt. John Paul Belleza, chief of the public affairs office of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division (9ID), said the incident was an NPA tactic to step up their extortion activities and a diversionary strategy by setting up APM offensive against military and police responders.
The 31st Infantry Battalion (31IB) condemned the attack perpetrated by the rebel group.
The Masbate City police station and Army troops conducted hot pursuit operations following the NPA landmine blast in Barangay Anas, Masbate City that killed a Far Eastern University (FEU) football player, and his cousin, and wounded another family member.
Government troops clashed with fleeing NPA rebels in Barangay Mapiña and seized assorted sizes of APM at the encounter site.
“The firefight lasted for 10 minutes with no casualty among the government troops while undetermined on the enemy side,” said Lt. Col. Steve dela Rosa, Masbate City chief of police.
He said the area is still being scoured by the composite teams while checkpoints have been put up in Barangay Kinamaligan and Bayombom, Masbate City.