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PAMPANGA, Philippines – Police authorities suspect that the men who shot and killed two passengers inside a bus in Nueva Ecija on Wednesday, November 15, were hired guns.
“Ang assessment namin is gun-for-hire. Probably binayaran lang sila,” said Major Rey Ian Agliam, the police chief of Carranglan, the town where the fatal shootings took place.
(Our assessment is that they’re guns for hire. They were probably just paid.)
Agliam said investigators are looking into one group of hired guns and monitoring their movements.
He, however, said investigators are gathering clues and information related to the case, and noted that the bus traveled from Cauayan City, Nueva Vizcaya, up to Nueva Ecija.
“Itong Carranglan halos boundary ng Santa Fe (Carranglan is near the boundary of Santa Fe),” Agliam told Rappler on Friday, November 17.
Agliam said the police have records of the existence of gun-for-hire groups in Nueva Ecija.
The shootings horrified many as a video clip of the attack, captured by the bus’ dashboard camera, quickly spread on social media.
It showed the assailants drawing guns, with one firing four shots at the victims’ heads and necks while the Victory Liner-owned bus was on the south lane in Carranglan.
The victims, live-in partners, were identified as a 60-year-old female from Cauayan City and a 55-year-old male from Koronadal.
Agliam told reporters earlier that the victims boarded the bus in Nueva Vizcaya.
Colonel Jean Fajardo, head of the Philippine National Police Public Information Office, said on Thursday, November 16, that investigators were looking into a dispute between the female victim and her son, who had been reported to the police for carnapping.
Two days after the brutal killing, Agliam said the police have not yet identified any of the gunmen.
Agliam, however, said they were focusing on one of the victim’s soured relations with a family member and a land dispute.
He said authorities would continue to gather vital information and review the footage from the bus company.
In the wake of the shootings, the police advised bus drivers and operators to tighten security at bus stations and terminals across the region.
LTFRB steps in
Meanwhile, on Friday, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) issued a show cause order to Victory Liner for its alleged failure to provide safe, adequate, comfortable, and dependable land public transportation.
Lawyer Frederick Valero, chief of LTFRB’s legal division, gave the bus company until November 21 to state its position. The company’s management representatives were summoned to a hearing scheduled at the LTFRB on the same day.
LTFRB officials said they were determining if there were violations in the security plan of the bus operator, including whether the bus was a regular or point-to-point transportation service.
“Was the bus in the right lane? Was it taking the route that was provided by the LTFRB?” said LTFRB Chairperson Teofilo Guadiz III in a news conference.
The LTFRB has issued a memorandum circular requiring bus operators to submit security plans.
“If there is at least one that wasn’t implemented, they will have to explain, and administrative sanctions will be imposed,” he said. – Rappler.com