Security measures up in bus and passenger van terminals in Region 12

January 27, 2011 12:10 pm 

COTABATO CITY, Jan. 27 – Bus companies and passenger vans plying from major urban centers in Central Mindanao to Davao City and vice versa have implemented stricter measures to prevent a Makati bus boming-type incident, authorities and public transport operators Thursday said.

In Cotabato City, the Weena Bus Company management, the lone bus firm plying the Cotabato-Davao and had been subjected to bomb attacks in the past, has beefed up security measures.

In North Cotabato, Governor Emmylou Lala Mendoza has pushed for the deployment of armed marshals in all buses passing through North Cotabato municipalities.

She said the marshals will serve as deterrent to lawless elements and will create an atmosphere of security for the riding public.

At Weena Bus terminal in Cotabato City, uniformed policemen and Army bomb squad with bomb sniffing dogs were seen at the vicinity of the terminal along Don Rufino Alonzo Avenue.

All baggages, hand carried luggage and bags are subjected to physical check to ensure the safety of everybody, according to Eddie Soledad.

Soledad, terminal manager, said his office has immediately coordinated with the Cotabato City Police and Philippine Marines to help them secure the passengers.

Soledad also directed all bus drivers to refrain from picking up passengers outside bus terminals.

Suspects in previous bomb attacks against Weena and other bus companies operating from Davao City to other cities in the region board the bus in between terminals.

"We have policies the require drivers to only allow loading and unloading of passengers at bus stations," Soledad said.

Weena Bus company is one of the three bus firms operating in the region which had been subjected to deadly bomb attacks, the latest was in North Cotabato where a Rural Bus Transit unit was bombed by suspected extortionists, leaving 11 people killed.

Chief Supt. Gil Meneses, Central Mindanao police regional director, has ordered all city and provincial directors in Region-12 to take precautionary measures to prevent bomb attacks on public utility vehicles, buses, passenger vans, public markets and houses of worship.

Region 12 or SOCSKSARGEN is composed the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Saranggani and the cities of Gen. Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

"We should be always ahead of the lawless elements," Meneses said, adding that the PNP national headquarters have placed the entire police force in the country into heightened alert.

Yellow Bus Company, another bus firm operating the Gen. Santos City-Koronadal City-Davao City route which experienced bomb attacks in the past, immediately instituted measures to avoid violence and ensure the safety of travelers.

Policemen and patrol cars were seen at the bus terminals in Tacurong City, Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, Koronadal City and Gen. Santos City, areas where the Yellow Bus operates.

At a passenger van terminal along Jose Lim Street in Cotabato City, policemen have been deployed to assist security guards in checking all baggages and boxes that the passengers carry as they travel to Davao City.

The van operators cooperative also enforces stricter policy of no loading of passengers along the highways and outside van terminals.

"We should not lower our guards, we should always be ahead of the lawless elements," Meneses said.

The Rural Bus Transit which plies the Cagayan de Oro City-Tacurong City route, passing the towns of Carmen, Kabacan, Matalam, Mlang and Tulunan in North Cotabato also deployed unarmed marshals in its units.

Police and bomb sniffing dogs have been deployed in bus terminals in Kabacan, Carmen, Mlang and Tulunan.

"There is no substitute for being prepared," Meneses said, adding that all police preventive measures should be supported by the riding public.

"The public is enjoined to help authorities detect lawless elements from carrying out their evil motives," he said.

Colonel Prudencio Asto, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, said elements of the 6th ID assigned in various places in Maguindanao, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat have been alerted following last Tuesday's bomb attack in Makati.

Asto said the soldiers are providing support to the local police in implementing stricter measures to ensure the safety of passengers.

He said the fight against terrorists is not the sole responsibility of the police or the military.

"Everyone, regardless of faith, belief, cultural affiliation and tribe, should work for the safety of everybody," he said.

"Bombs were created to kill and maim people and it recognizes no culture, belief and affiliations," Asto once said emphasizing peoples participation in fighting terrorism. (PNA)



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