BY ROGER M. BALANZA
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said he would order blocking of entry into city territory of buses breaking regulations on passenger carriage and baggage inspections as 10 people were killed and 40 others injured in a bombing attack on a bus by suspected Moro terrorists in Maramag, Bukidnon.
Authorities said the bombing was carried out by a lone suspect who flagged and rode the bus along the highway after leaving a bus terminal and disembarked also along the highway minutes before the IED exploded in front of the Central Mindanao University (CMU). Five of the fatalities were CMU students.
The military blamed the bombing of the Rural Transit Mindanao Inc. (RTMI) bus on the terrorist group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Bombing attacks on buses have been largely blamed on terrorists carrying Improvised Explosive Device (IED) who avoid detection by riding buses in highways and not in bus terminals.
Duterte said he wants security regulations on loading and unloading of passengers and cargoes only in the city’s lone bus terminals strictly followed.
In the Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa television program (December 14) on ABS/CBN- Southern Mindanao, Duterte said the Public Safety Command Center (PSCC) headed by retired General Frank Villaroman will be coordinating with bus companies on compliance to the strict security measures to preVent a similar attack in the city.
A Davao City ordinance approved in 1987 required buses to load and unload passengers and cargoes only at the Davao City Overland Transport Terminal (DCOTT).
Ordinance No. 110 was primarily aimed at raising revenues for DCOTT, among projects built from a P300 million long-term loan from the World Bank secured for the city under the Regional Cities Development Project (RCDP) of the national government.
But as bus bombings became a regular routine for violence by Mindanao Moro militants, Davao City authorities gave more teeth to safety regulations by adopting a terminal-to-terminal policy on loading and unloading of cargoes and passengers to ward off terrorists sneaking in bombs into buses.
Task Force Davao, permanently assigned in the city after the 2003 separate bombings of the Davao airport and Sasa wharf, also has imposed strict inspection of passengers and cargoes at DCOTT and in entry points in the highways.