Four Suspected PAG Members in Masbate Nabbed

Monday, April 26th, 2010

MANILA, April 23  -- Former UN peacekeepers who were newly deployed to augment Special Task Force Masbate, arrested four suspected members of a partisan armed group (PAG) in Bgy. Naocondiot, Placer, Masbate on Thursday afternoon, a military officer said.

Major Harold M. Cabunoc, Division Spokesperson said that the former UN peacekeepers are among the combined elements of the STF Masbate which was sent to check the reported presence of gun-toting gunmen in the village.

Led by Police Inspector Nicolas Malipot Jr, the government forces stormed the place after being fired upon by gunmen. No one was hurt among the responding STF Masbate personnel.

The suspects surrendered upon seeing that they were surrounded by heavily armed soldiers. A Caliber .357 Smith and Wesson Revolver and copies of official ballots for the upcoming elections were recovered from the suspects.

Cabunoc identified the arrested persons as follows: Ronald Santianes, Dennis Salvador, Ardito Gailan and Sonny Espinosa. They are currently detained in Masbate Provincial Police Office with the filing of criminal charges against them.

The STF Masbate has confiscated 10 high-powered firearms and 77 low-powered firearms from 98 arrested PAG members as of today. It has also recorded 8 election-related violent incidents (ERVIs) since January 1, 2010.

A consistent election 'hotspot', Masbate has recorded 22 ERVI's in 2004 and 18 tally in 2007 elections.

The task force was augmented with additional forces after the deployment of a 250-men strong battalion of former UN peacekeepers on April 16, 2010.

The newly deployed soldiers have been deployed to different municipalities where violent incidents have been recorded. (PNA)