Caraga placed on high alert after Bukidnon bus blast

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/15 December) – Security measures have been stepped up in Caraga region right after the bombing of a passenger bus in Maramag, Bukidnon last week, the regional office of the Philippine National Police said.

Supt. Romaldo Bayting, spokesperson of Caraga Police Regional Office said Sunday the measures include stricter conduct of checkpoints especially at the regional boundaries.

Bayting said police personnel with K-9 units are boarding and checking buses along the borders of Caraga region.

“These checkpoints are part of the intensification of our security measures. Aside from these regular checkpoints our personnel are also conducting random checkpoints in other areas since there is likelihood that these criminal elements would find a way to get past our border checkpoints,” he added.

Also on Sunday, Supt. Romy Palgue, Butuan City’s deputy police director said an ongoing police program named Patrol 101 is part of their elaborate security plan not only because of the bombing incident but also for the holidays.

“Police Regional Director PC Supt. David Ombao has given the directive for the implementation of Patrol 101 which would require police personnel in all convergence zone and residential areas in the city,” Palgue said.

“This is not only about police visibility, but our personnel should also connect with the community and work with the community to be more effective,” he added.

He explained that the concept of the plan is to push police personnel into becoming more dedicated to secure the areas where they are assigned.

“If ever a certain criminal incident would transpire in the area where a certain police officer is assigned, they will be made to explain and would even be held accountable as to why the crime happened during their watch,” he said.

Palgue added that the city received additional personnel from the regional office to augment its existing force.

Last Dec. 9, an improvised explosive device went off inside a bus of Rural Transit Mindanao Inc. outside Central Mindanao University in Musuan, Maramag town killing 10 people and wounding 42 others. Five of the fatalities were students of CMU who had just boarded the bus.

Authorities blamed the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters for the blast, but the BIFF denied any responsibility and even implied that it could be the handiwork of the military.

Another RTMI bus was also bombed on Nov. 6 in Barangay Dologon, also in Maramag, just a kilometer away from CMU. Four people were injured.

No group has claimed responsibility for both incidents. (Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews)