Life snuffed out of jolly Rusty, the bus conductor

He had been doing that for the past 10 months when he was taken in as a bus conductor of  Weena Express, the major inter-provincial bus company plying the Davao City-Cotabato City route.

Antelino was his usual self, teasing around, cracking jokes or taunting children until they laugh. His wife and cousins, including Noraima Guiamad, were already in Davao City earlier in the day to go around the city.

At 5:40 pm, he was among the severely injured when a crude bomb placed inside an old zippered bag exploded, just outside the door of the bus when he and a soldier threw it at the prodding of other passengers.

More passengers would have been killed if the bag had not been taken out.

At 6:30 pm, Guiamad, other cousins and Antelino's wife, received the text message through her cellular phone, that "a Weena Bus was bombed in Bansalan".

Guiamad and her cousins, including Antelino's wife, rushed to the Davao Medical Center (DMC) here to ascertain if Antelino would be one of those who were transported from the "National,” actually referring to the provincial hospital in Digos City, 23 kilometers away from Bansalan.

"We were late. He was one of those brought here in the ambulance but he was dead," Guiamad said.

The provincial hospital was ill-equipped and had Antelino and two others transported to Davao City, some 56 kilometers away.

While in Bansalan, Antelino was already reported to be “profusely bleeding,” Red Cross volunteers said. Bansalan to Davao City is 69 kilometers away.

A crewmember of a national television told MindaNews that Antelino was  transferred to a tricycle after the ambulance suffered a busted tire several hundred meters from the DMC. He was declared dead on arrival by a hospital doctor at the emergency room.

"His two feet and two arms were twisted, and his face was burned," Guiamad said.
Antelino apparently was one of those who absorbed the blast or its impact. Driver Romeo Lu died on the spot, though Antelino was still rushed to the provincial hospital in Digos City, along with the other victims.
Ten persons died in the bomb explosion inside the Weena bus. Fourteen others were injured.

Not all the victims and fatalities were passengers.

Estrellita Sisneros, kagawad of Barangay Poblacion 2 of Bansalan said a male customer who was about to buy a liquefied petroleum gas in an adjacent hardware was killed when a shrapnel entered his nape and exited at his neck. A 40-year-old beggar in the place was also killed and was one of the last to be attended by rescuers.

Among the injured were her brother in law, a tricycle driver, who happened to pass by the other lane when the bomb exploded. He was hit by a shrapnel that made a clean piercing wound at his esophagus.

A father from the next town of Magsaysay, also in Davao del Sur, said that his son, Rey Mendes, was also injured while he was about to close the Apo Hardware, fronting the bus when a bomb exploded.

Major Randolph Cabangbang, spokesman of the military's Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) identified the ten fatalities as Antelino, Lu, Pepe Billotes of Kidapawan, Wilson Menel of Magsaysay, Ricardo Tolibas of Bansalan, Corporal Dariel Potestas, an unidentified male and a female.

Adelaida Badilla, social welfare officer and action officer of the Municipal Disaster Coordinating Council of Sta. Cruz who rushed to the blast scene told MindaNews that another two persons, also unidentified, were also killed.

But for Antelino's kin, being a Muslim posed another problem: could they get any transportation to bring his body back to Kidapawan? It would take the whole of dawn Saturday to figure it out.

"As Muslims, we are not allowed to use a hearse," Guiamad said. She said they have to bury Antelino on Saturday, according to Muslim practice of burying their dead within the day. (MindaNews)