Buses told not to pick up passengers in between terminals following blast PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 04 October 2015 15:02

KORONADAL CITY — Police authorities in South Cotabato on Saturday directed bus companies not to pick up passenger in between bus terminals as part of security measures against bus bombings.

Senior Superintendent Jose Briones, South Cotabato police director, issued the directive following the bombing of a unit of Yellow Bus Lines (YBL) in Polomolok, South Cotabato that injured 18 passengers.

Briones said two men planted the improvised bomb that went off inside a Gen. Santos City-bound YBL unit Thursday that injured 18 persons, police said.

Based on the tickets issued by conductor Samuel Batol, two male passengers boarded the bus after it left Tupi town terminal.

They were among the 10 passengers Batol issued ticket from Tupi to Polomolok. The two disembarked at Polomolok bus terminal.

Briones reminded the bus firm not to pick up passengers in between terminals where there’s no police or security guards conducting body and baggage inspection.

“In all likelihood, the bombers boarded the bus along a highway outside the Tupi bus terminal,” he said.

Senior Inspector Armando Galigo of the PNP Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) said the modified grenade was placed in a blue and red “sando” bag and put it in the overhead carrier in the middle of YBL bus with body number 2008 and license plate MDB-296. It has 38 passengers, the conductor and bus driver.

Police investigators are looking at al-Khobar extortion gang members as the culprit. The group which is based in Maguindanao has been preying on YBL and other bus firms operating in south-central Mindanao, extorting “protection money.”

Chief Superintendent Lester Camba, Central Mindanao police director, has said that investigation showed the suspects called the YBL office in Gen. Santos City informing them of a bomb planted in one of its units.

The YBL office secretary who received the phone call told police the caller left a mobile number for the YBL management to call for negotiation. The call was received at 11:50 or about 15 minutes before the explosion in Barangay Silway 7, Polomolok.

Boy Par, YBL operation manager, said only four of the victims remained in the hospital. “The firm will take care of all the hospital bills of all victims,” Par said.

Police and military intelligence agents said Al-Khobar, composed of former Moro rebels, is based in Maguindanao and victimizing passenger buses plying the Cotabato-Gen. Santos and Isulan-Tacurong-Gen. Santos routes.

It used improvised bombs which has the “signatures” of outlawed armed groups in Maguindanao. Bus firms who ignore extortion have been subjected to attacks.

Briones called on all stakeholders, bus drivers, conductors, security personnel and passengers to work together to prevent similar attacks in the future.

“Bus drivers have huge roles to play to prevent this,” he said. Picking up of passengers in between designated terminals should be a no-no,” he added.