Police said the incident took place in Barangay Malasila, Makilala, some 100 meters away from the Malasila Elementary school.
Weena's bus bearing body number 5568 and plate number MVA-681 was driven by Totoy Torres and bound for Davao City. Three passengers armed with pistols reportedly ordered the bus rerouted to a dark portion of the Cotabato-Davao highway.
Torres told Makilala police that upon reaching there he saw 15 armed men
waiting with gallons of gasoline which they used to burn the bus.
He said the leader of the armed men ordered the passengers to get their
belongings and disembark.
“Bag-o sila nanghawa nadunggan pa nako ang ilang leader nag-ingon nga nibalos lang daw sila kay sad-an daw ang tag-iya sa Weena bus sa ilahang grupo,” (Before they left I heard their leader say they just got even with the bus owner who allegedly committed an offense against them) an unidentified passenger said.
Makilala police eyed extortion as the possible motive behind the arson. The NPA could not be reached for comment.
The Weena management had not issued a comment on the incident.
Weena Bus Company operates hundreds of buses plying the Cotabato-Davao route. (Williamor A. Magbanua/MindaNews)