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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Zambo authorities urges transport groups to help ensure passengers’ safety

By Dominic I. Sanchez

ZAMBOANGA CITY – In light of the recent bombing of a bus in Tomas Claudio Extension that killed a girl and wounded 33 others including an infant, local officials here are calling on public transportation operators to enforce strict inspection and security measures, especially in terminals.

Mayor Beng Climaco-Salazar aired her call through Zamboanga Today, that operators of public transportation should enforce “strict inspection procedures, safety and security measures.”
After the blast on Friday, Philippine National Police (PNP) deputy regional director for operations PSSupt. Randolf Delfin said that it is also “the responsibility of the bus liner to provide security to their passengers.”

“Please coordinate with us when you are receiving extortion letters,” Delfin said, adding that had they been informed, appropriate security measures would have been done pro-actively, which could have prevented the explosion.

The D’Biel transport, which operated said bus took flak from angry residents after authorities pointed out that the management had already received an extortion letter, which D’Biel allegedly did not disclose to police prior to the incident.

Local broadcast journalist and Talon-Talon barangay captain Teodyver Arquiza strongly criticized D’Biel’s management for their non-coordination with authorities. “The victims have suffered terribly as a result,” he said on-air in Chavacano.

In CCTV footages secured by GBPI TV-11 on Friday, a man wearing a black hoodie and green jogging pants can be seen carrying a package and walking towards the off-cam bus. A few minutes after, he was again seen, now hurriedly running away, this time without the package. There was an explosion barely two minutes afterwards.

Last Sunday, the police released a cartographic sketch of the suspect. City Police Director Sr. Supt. Angelito Casimiro said that based on eyewitness account, the suspect is 5’4 in height, about 25 years old, medium built, brown complexion and a slightly drooping shoulder.

Authorities have already set a P200 thousand bounty for the suspect.

According to Mayor Climaco-Salazar, based on reports that she had received, there may be a link between the D’Biel blast and the Lamitan blast on September 16. Police are eyeing the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) for the atrocities, which has been engaging in extortions, bombings and kidnap-for-ransom within the Zamboanga Peninsula area.

Meanwhile, the cartographic sketch of the suspect, which has gone viral over social media was heavily criticized for being culturally-insensitive. The sketch, which provided physical information about the suspect carried the words “Muslim type.” Netizens cried foul over the unwarranted labeling. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clarified that the description was the eyewitness’ own words, and was “purely personal to the witness.”

Leila Dagalea Vicente on Facebook cited the Anti-Ethnic or Racial Profiling and Discrimination Act of 2011, which is the law providing for criminal liabilities for such issues.