EDITORIAL - Murder on a bus

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - Murder on a bus

Commuters have enough problems with buses figuring in sometimes fatal accidents because the brakes malfunctioned or the driver was speeding. Now an incident on Nov. 15 on a bus in Carranglan, Nueva Ecija has given another reason for commuters to worry about personal safety when taking public transport.

Two passengers asleep on the front seats on a bus were shot dead by two other passengers who came up from the rear of the vehicle that was headed for Manila from Tuguegarao City in Cagayan. At least the Victory Liner bus was equipped with a dashcam, which showed the gunmen – both wearing camouflage shorts, black shirts and caps, with one carrying a backpack – as they approached and shot the victims.

The incident should lead to enhanced security measures in mass transportation. Such measures were put in place at the height of the Islamist terrorist threat about two decades ago. This wasn’t due to paranoia; the Abu Sayyaf, at the time working with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, had set off bombs on public transport in Mindanao and Metro Manila. On Dec. 30, 2000, the group bombed multiple targets: a Light Rail Transit coach at the Blumentritt station in Manila, a park across the US embassy, a gas station in Makati, a cargo handling area at the NAIA and a bus on EDSA. The Rizal Day bombings left 22 people dead.

On Feb. 27, 2004, a bomb planted by the Abu Sayyaf ripped through the SuperFerry 14 in Manila Bay, killing 116. Tagged as the world’s deadliest maritime terrorist attack, the bombing led to tight security measures in maritime transport across the country. Those measures remain in place for ferries, but security measures on passenger buses have been considerably more relaxed with the perceived easing of the terrorist threat.

Now bus passengers must worry about homicidal criminals packing guns in their midst. As police hunt down the gunmen in the Nueva Ecija incident, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board has summoned representatives of Victory Liner Inc. to determine if the company has been negligent in its security measures. The Philippine National Police may also have to revive boarding passenger buses to conduct random inspections for deadly weapons. The deaths of the two passengers should lead to safer rides for the public.

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