SOUTH COTABATO — Another bus owned by Yellow Bus Lines Inc. was torched in Santo Niño town in South Cotabato Tuesday evening by armed men who claimed to be a part of the New People's Army (NPA).
The bus was travelling from Isulan municipality, Sultan Kudarat.
According to bus conductor Roberto Velarde, four men and three students had boarded the vehicle. When they reached Purok Pioneer in Barangay Poblacion in Santo Niño, two passengers got off the bus.
"Yun palang apat na 'yun, kasama pala nila 'yung dalawang pasahero na bumaba doon sa kanto sa may sementeryo. Pagbaba nila, may isa na pala doon na naghihintay na may dalang gasolina," he said.
(The four men who boarded the bus were working together. When two of them got off near the cemetery, another man was waiting and he was carrying gasoline.)
The men identified themselves as NPA members and one of them pointed a gun at the bus driver. They said they were only after the bus.
The group poured gasoline on the bus and lit it on fire.
According to police, a passerby noticed suspicious activity inside the bus and reported what he saw to the authorities.
"Nakita nila na paatras ang bus. Tapos nakita pa nila na tinutukan ang driver," said Police Inspector Bertito Delco Jr., deputy chief of police of Santo. Nino.
(They saw that the bus was moving in reverse. Then they saw that a gun was pointed at the driver’s head.)
A team of patrol officers immediately responded but the bus was already in flames. Police pursued the suspects but lost track of them.
Since November, five buses are reported to have been burned by alleged NPA members. Four of the buses were owned by the Yellow Bus Lines worth P25 million.
Yellow Bus Lines management refused to comment on the recent incident.
"May mga suspects na tayo pero hindi lang natin sila ma-link doon sa crime," said Police Senior Supt. Franklin Alvero, provincial director of the South Cotabato police.
(We already have suspects but we cannot link them to the crime.)
Aside from buses, at least ten heavy equipment were also torched by alleged members of the NPA.