The twin explosions were the third bombing incident involving the Yellow Bus Line Inc. (YBL) based in this city in less than a month.
Senior Supt. Robert Kiunisala, South Cotabato police director, said the first bomb exploded at around 5:20 p.m. at the arrival area of the main passenger terminal of the YBL, one of the biggest bus companies in Southwestern Mindanao.
Less than a minute later, he said another bomb exploded inside YBL’s aircon bus number 1951 while it was about to leave the terminal.
"We've been on alert since this morning because of a prior threat. We also alerted Yellow Bus but the bombers were still able to slip past our security cordon," Kiunisala said.
Kiunisala said the first improvised bomb exploded a few meters where the lone fatality identified as Willy Boy Caritan, 31, a pastor of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Churches of the Philippines (Camacop) based in Panabo, Davao del Norte, was standing.
Caritan, a resident of Homeland Subdivision in Panabo, was reportedly waiting for his wife who just went to the comfort room when the explosion came.
In the second explosion, which burned the entire bus, its six passengers, driver and conductor were able to get out of the bus moments before the explosion.
“It’s very fortunate that the passengers instinctively rushed out of the bus after hearing the first explosion,” Kiunisala said.
The City Social Welfare and Development Office identified the injured passengers and bystanders as Jose Alo, Emmanuel Amlag, Danilo Montefrio, Miguel Espanol, Danilo Marcellana, Ryan Cainong, Jimmy Wili, Modesta Aujero, SPO2 Jerome Gazeta and Daisylyn Gazeta.
Olimpio Par, YBL operations manager, said the bomb was reportedly left by the unidentified persons near the package storage counter of the terminal’s arrival area.
“This is very unfortunate. We had been very strict with our security measures and yet this happened again,” he said.
South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes blamed the "very lax" security measures implemented by the police and the bus company for the twin explosions.
"This very frustrating. This happened mainly because of their laxity. I don't what kind of security measure our city police has been implementing," she said.
Fuentes said she was informed by officials of the bus company that at around 12:50 this afternoon, a man who identified himself as Alkobar called up the YBL office and warned of another bomb explosion.
The Alkobar group, an extortion gang tagged behind the series of bomb explosions on several bus units in Southwestern Mindanao, was reportedly trying to extort a big amount of money from YBL but the company has strongly refused to give in to their demands.
It may be recalled that the group also called up the bus company prior to the explosion of one of its buses here last July 7 and another one at the public terminal in Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat last July 18. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)