LTFRB-10 chief: RTMI had lapses but ‘won’t affect their franchise’

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News.Net/12 December) The Rural Transit Mindanao Inc. (RTMI) had committed lapses when they did not report to police that they have received text messages from unknown persons threatening to bomb one of their buses if they will not pay P50,000 a month, said Mandangan Darimbang, regional director of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) in Northern Mindanao.

Darimbang told this reporter via telephone late Friday afternoon that for him personally it was really their (RTMI) lapse. He cited that the RTMI official who attended the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) meeting in Cagayan de Oro City Thursday admitted that “time was the essence” why they failed to report the messages and were not able to respond to it.

He cited that RTMI allegedly ignored the first text message they received because it did not indicate any bus number, it was hard to trace, and “did not know whom to report it”.

Darimbang said in the succeeding text, the unidentified source of the message already cited the bus number but it was too short notice already for them to alert the concerned bus unit.

He said they are answerable to the police about that but added that the lapse will not affect the bus company’s franchise.

On Thursday, Darimbang said RTMI is obliged and mandated to ensure “safe, convenient, and reliable” public transport as provided in their franchise.

Bukidnon News.Net tried calling the RTMI branch manager and administrator but the latter did not take the call attempts as of Friday 6p.m.

If this is true, then RTMI should face sanctions to ensure public safety in future incidents, Malaybalay bishop Jose Cabantan said Friday afternoon. Cabantan has earlier condemned the bombing as “an act of terrorism” and called on law enforcers to be proactive, not only reactive, to solve the crimes in Bukidnon.

In a meeting yesterday, Darimbang said they have agreed with law enforces and RTMI that they will take two “very urgent” measures to address security threats concerning buses.

He cited that he has issued an order asking RTMI to submit on or before December 19, a list of their loading and unloading areas throughout the coverage of their operation. Darimbang cited that it will be submitted to police so they can assign personnel to handle the areas where frisking of both passengers and baggage will be done.

“No more pick up of passengers outside these areas will be allowed,” he added. He said the order will take effect as soon as police can assign personnel to the designated areas and after they coordinate with other bus operators.

He said they have also required RTMI to submit on or before December 17 a proposed schedule of their in-house anti-crime prevention capability building training. Darimbang said officials from the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), the military, police, LTFRB, and Land Transportation Office will serve as resource persons in these sessions.

He cited that another measure, which they still need to coordinate, is to require RTMI to tag all baggage.

“But we still have to discuss it further since it entails additional costs,” he added.

An RTMI bus bearing body number 2640 was bombed late Tuesday afternoon in Musuan, Maramag town near Central Mindanao University in Bukidnon killing 10 people, including five students, and wounding 42 others.

Hansel Echavez, head of the Bukidnon provincial public affairs, information, and assistance office, said the P150,000 insurance for those who died in the bombing will be handed over to representatives of the families of the victims on December 17, Wednesday.

Darimbang said earlier that the Philippine Accident Managers Inc. will right away pay claims of the 10 casualties as death due to bombing incidents is included in “no-fault” insurance coverage. He added that payment to those who were injured will depend on gravity of injuries.

The CMU administration has “strongly condemned the act” in a statement Wednesday. To address possible trauma among students, the university made available its buses and coasters to shuttle students to and from Valencia. Leo Aribal, CMU public information officer, said it will not be for free but should provide options for some students who felt unsafe taking RTMI buses or multi-cabs. (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News.Net)