COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Police in North Cotabato have appealed to the management of Weena Bus Company to religiously observe the security arrangements they have agreed on to avoid a repeat of the recent bomb attacks on the firm.
Senior Inspector Joyce Berrey, North Cotabato police spokesperson, said Weena buses have been violating the agreement when they began picking up passengers in between terminals along the Davao-Cotabato route.
“We appeal to them to observe self-restraint to save passengers’ lives,” she told radio dxND in Kidapawan City.
Following the series of bomb attacks against the bus firm last month that claimed at least 10 lives, Weena decided to allow passengers to board and disembark only at bus terminals.
The attacks occurred in Bansalan, Davao del Sur, Cotabato City and Matalam, North Cotabato.
Lately, Berrey said, drivers have been violating the security agreement.
Eduardo Soledad, Weena bus company terminal manager in Cotabato City, said he will act on the police’s complaint.
But Weena drivers, especially of non-airconditioned units, have again begun taking in passengers along the highway, a practice that made the bus firm vulnerable to bomb attacks.
“The bus company has lowered its guard,” Berrey said, citing complaints from commuters.
Police have deployed marshals onboard the buses to check on bags and boxes carried by passengers.
Bomb-sniffing dogs have also been deployed to every bus terminal.
Alejandro Simbulan, a regular bus passenger on Davao-bound buses from here, said he overheard bus drivers saying they have to pick up passengers along the highway “to earn more.”
“This is dangerous because some buses have no marshals, and passengers notice that the bus conductors do not check the boxes and backpacks carried by riding individuals,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net.
He said security only becomes tight after a bomb attack.
North Cotabato Vice Governor Emmanuel Piñol has directed local police to conduct mobile checkpoints to check on buses in between terminals.