Suspect in Abra town fiesta blast nabbed

BAGUIO CITY — Police operatives arrested on Tuesday one of the three suspects in the past-midnight grenade blast in La Paz town, Abra province early this year, which killed two cops and injured several others, including Abra Rep. Joseph Sto. Niño Bernos and his wife, La Paz Mayor Menchie Bernos.

Police Regional Office Cordillera (PROCOR) on Wednesday said joint operatives of Lagayan town police in Abra and the provincial mobile force arrested Joel Millare Balucas, 45, farmer, and resident of Lagayan municipality.

A grenade blast jolted locals celebrating the La Paz fiesta at the town plaza past midnight of Jan. 25, 2018. It happened while the people were watching fireworks display at that time.

One of the cops killed was a Special Action Force (SAF) member, who had survived the Mamasapano encounter on the same date in 2015.

PROCOR head Chief Supt. Rolando Nana said the joint operatives arrested Balucas around 1:40 p.m. on Tuesday at Sitio Kiwas, Barangay Pulot, Lagayan, Abra by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 1 in Bangued, Abra last Aug. 24. The court recommended no bail.

Nana said Balucas and two other suspects were charged with “double murder and multiple frustrated murder” docketed as Criminal Case no. 2018-138.

Balucas has other pending cases for three counts of attempted homicide with the use of unlicensed firearm filed in 2017.

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