PNP eyes extortion, labor row in bus attack

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — DIRECTOR Geary Barias, National Capital Region Police Office chief, yesterday doubted the theory that New People’s Army rebels were the ones who torched five Victory Liner buses parked inside the company’s terminal in Cubao, Quezon City, early yesterday.

While Barias pointed out that the Philippine National Police is not completely ruling out NPA involvement, he said probers are centering on the angle of extortion or labor dispute.

“Maaring may hinihingi o may disgruntled employees. Maraming na-dismiss na driver. ’Pag aksidente, immediately tine-terminate. One reason siguro ’yan, nagkaroon ng hatred. Or extortion ito,” Barias told Camp Crame reporters inquiring about the incident.

He said the NCRPO had already issued artist’s sketches on five of the 10 men who attacked the Victory bus terminal. These were based on testimonies given by witnesses, he added.

Barias said that no one was injured, and that the incident did not disrupt operations of the bus firm. He said the firm returned to normal operations as of yesterday morning.

Barias said the predawn incident was an “isolated case.”

“The public has nothing to worry about, the situation is under control,” he said.
“Walang laman ang mga bus, mga bumibiyahe ito sa Norte,” Barias added.

But Barias admitted the raid was a “black eye,” coming less than a week after Philippine National Police chief Director General Avelino Razon Jr. made the rounds in the area.

Earlier this week, Razon made the rounds of key areas in Metro Manila to check on police visibility and checkpoint operations after two gruesome massacres in Laguna province.

“Nalusutan kami… Doblehin o triplehin natin ang police visibility ’di lang dito kundi sa Metro Manila,” Barias said.

Initial investigation showed the armed men barged into the Victory Liner compound in Cubao and immediately disarmed the guard.

“Huwag kayo matakot, ’di kayo mapapahamak. Mga taong-labas kami. Mga kapatid, matagal na kaming galit sa Victory dahil hindi binibigay ang aming gusto,” the guard recalled the men telling him and other bus firm workers.

A reconstruction of the incident based on the statements of the guard and drivers inside the compound showed the men then took cans of thinner, doused the contents on a bus (body 1567, license plate CWB-713), then set it on fire.

The fire spread to four other buses in the compound. There were at least nine buses in the compound at the time.