Bukidnon bus bombing: Bus firm management got text messages to pay up or else…

MANILA (MindaNews/12 December) – The Rural Transit in Mindanao Inc. received a flurry of text messages from unknown persons to pay P50 thousand a month or one of their buses would be bombed, police and military officials said.

An RTMI bus bearing body number 2640 was bombed late Tuesday afternoon in Barangay Dologon, Maramag town in Bukidnon killing 10 people and wounding 42 others.

Maj. Christian Uy, public information officer of the 4th Infantry Division said the bus company told members of the Regional Peace and Order Council in a closed-door briefing Wednesday in Cagayan de Oro City that they have indeed received extortion threats.

The RTMI management, however, did not inform the police or the military of the extortion threats, Uy said.

“The first text message was received through the RTMI hotline in Davao before their first bus was bombed on Nov. 6,” he said.

Last Nov. 6, an RTMI bus traveling from Tacurong City to Cagayan de Oro was bombed in the same town of Maramag, Bukidnon, wounding four passengers.

Uy said after the Nov. 6 bombing the RTMI management received another text message warning them that “a bigger bomb will be exploded in one of their buses if their demands are not met.”

This was confirmed by a well-placed source working in the PNP Task Force RTMI 2640, a special investigation team tasked to solve the Dec. 9 bus bombing.

“The text message was received this time by the RTMI hotline in Cagayan de Oro,” the PNP official said.

Uy said that like the threatening text message before the Nov. 6 bombing, the RTMI management ignored it and did not inform the authorities.

He said the last text message came about 30 minutes before improvised explosive device made of an 81-mm mortar went off inside bus number 2640 after it picked up passengers and students in front of the Central Mindanao University, about a kilometres away from the blast site.

“The text message told the bus company of the big explosion,” Uy said.

Police filed multiple murder and frustrated murder charges against a certain Macmod Manibpil alias “Mang” before the Bukidnon Provincial Prosecutor’s Office in Malaybalay City Thursday.

Police said Manibpil is a member of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. The BIFF has denied involvement in the bombing. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)