Abra grenade blast kills 2, injures congressman, mayor

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Two police officers were killed when two grenades exploded during a fireworks display at a plaza in La Paz, Abra at dawn yesterday to mark the celebration of the town fiesta.

Police Officer 3 Carlos Bocaig and PO2 Frenzel Kitoyan of the Abra police Mobile Force Company died at the scene. 

Abra Rep. Joseph Bernos and his wife Menchie, the mayor of La Paz; acting town police chief Senior Inspector Apdilon Galong, PO2 Richard Basiag of the Danglas police and barangay captain Darroll Gonzales were among the 12 persons wounded in the incident. 

Marc Rowjan Beronilla, 24; Diosdado Mina, 18; Jayson Bernabe, 35, and Juanito, 37, both surnamed Zales; Ryan Jun Marasan, 37; Benedicto Doque Jr., 32; Eva Marie Sales, 38; Aira Cortez, 17, and Leyze Rose Pe Benito, 23, teacher at the Queen of Peace High School were also wounded.

Initial investigation showed the grenades were lobbed at around 1:30 a.m. near the stage where local and police officials were seated. Two grenade levers were recovered at the scene. 

Police put up checkpoints across the province to prevent the suspects from escaping.

A task force headed by Senior Superintendent Sterling Raymund Blanco, Cagayan Valley police deputy director for operations, was created to investigate the incident.

Bernos said the grenades were intended for him and his wife, whom he brought to a hospital in Manila for treatment.

“A shrapnel pierced my wife’s leg while I only have superficial wounds,” Bernos said.

His older brother Ysrael, former mayor of La Paz, was gunned down at the same plaza while watching a basketball game also during a town fiesta in 2006.

During the campaign for the May 2016 elections, Bernos’ political aide Noel Belena, 61, was gunned down while riding a motorcycle on his way home.

“Only death will stop us from continuing our efforts to develop our province,” Bernos said.