DAVAO CITY – The quiet campus town of Maramag, Bukidnon in central Mindanao is now gripped with shock after the bus bombing on Tuesday that claimed ten lives, including five college students, and injuring many other students aboard the bus.
The bombing happened around 5:30 pm Tuesday several meters away from the Central Mindanao University main gate in Barangay Dologon. Students from CMU and nearby public high schools had just boarded Rural Transit Bus, with body number 2640, when a bomb exploded inside few seconds after taking off.
The bus came from Wao, Bukidnon and was bound for Cagayan de Oro City.
Ten people were dead before they could reach Lavina General Hospital in Valencia City. Among them were CMU freshman student Kim Lloyd Vallente of Malabalay City; Marielle Achacoso, 17; Bernard Cunahap; Niezel Dee Gonzaga, 22; and Johnrey Valdesco.
Forty-two other passengers were injured and were rushed to the Adventist Medical Center in Valencia and Lavina Hospital.
The university administration condemned the attack, as it suspended classes on Wednesday and announced that all Christmas festivities would be cancelled.
Students and teachers held a community prayer at the CMU gates on Wednesday, while others expressed their messages of condolences and call for justice through social media, including in the Facebook account for CMU students.
A CMU student interviewed by Davao Today said that remaining classes before the Christmas holidays might be cancelled, and the university is preparing arranged transportation for students going to their home provinces.
The student who requested that she would not be named said that security was tightened, with soldiers and officers of the Reserved Officers Training Corps roving the area.
She also shared a text message passed around the campus of a suspicious guy spotted in the campus holding a bag.
Louder than a blown truck tire
A closed circuit television carmera footage released by school officials and uploaded in social media showed the ill-fated bus picking up passengers across the street and several seconds after it took off, an explosion was seen at a little distance.
An off-duty CMU security guard told Davao Today in a text message that he thought he heard a tire blast, but turned around and saw the bus in smoke.
“The blast was louder than a blown tire of a ten-wheeler truck. The roof (of the bus) caved in, and the windows were shattered,” the guard said.
He said the blast came about three seats away from the rear end of the bus.
A police report said the explosion came from the overhead compartment, that would explain why blast victims got head injuries and wounds.
The CMU female student also said the explosion could be heard inside the campus, as she was staying in her dormitory some 200 meters away from the main gate.
She added that one of the students who survived the explosion was the girlfriend of Kim Lloyd. The girl was pushed out of the window by Kim after hearing an explosion.
A task force is now formed to investigate the incident. Authorities are determining if the bomb attack was linked to a previous bomb explosion of another Rural Transit bus last November 6 also in Barangay Dologon, Maramag that injured four persons.
Davao Today obtained a text message reportedly circulating around Maramag for a week which warned about a possible attack against detachments and “Christians” by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) over the “ineffective” peace agreement. The text claimed the information came from military intelligence.
The MILF has worked out with the government peace panel for the Bangsamoro Basic Law as the basis for the Bangsamoro autonomous region, which is now being deliberated in Congress.
Earlier, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters belied military reports that they have plans to bomb public places.
The police blotter identified the ten fatalities as:
1) Kim Valiente, 17, of Malaybalay City
2) Anita Santillan, 54, of Dologon, Maramag, Bukidnon
3) Catherine Villahermosa
4) Johnrey Valdesco
5) John Bernard Cunahap
6) Jonathan Balida
7) Marielle Achacoso, 17, of Kalasungay, Malaybalay City
8) Niezel Dee Gonzaga, 22, of Hagkol, Valencia City
9) Michael Buctos of Purok 5, South Poblacion
The injured passengers:
1) Remedios Abregana, 55, of Pangantucan, Bukidnon
2) Eden Protacio, 36, of CMU Maramag, Bukidnon
3) Juvy Generalao, 18, of Pangantucan, Bukidnon
4) Jonathan Cantomayor, 22, of P-1 Cabulahan,Cabanglasan, Bukidnon
5) Rodmar Camarista, 12, of Buffallo, CMU, Musuan, Maramag, Bukidnon
6) Mike Earl Otara, 16, of P-17, Hagkol, Valencia City
7) Junrey Bagongon, 24, of P-15, CMU Maramag, Bukidnon
8) John Manuel Bogayong, 15, of P-3 Bangcud, Malaybalay City
9) Karla Jane Yadao, 15, of Lumbo, Valencia City
10) Violeta Bustamante, 38, of CMU Maramag
11) Jesreel Arango, 38, of Malaybalay City
12) Marites Camarista, 33, of CMU Maramag, Bukidnon
13) Lovely Rose Basalo, 18, of Bantuanon, Lantapan, Bukidnon
14) Willy Ligan, 20, of Aglayan, Malaybalay City
15) Jenny Lucero, 50, of Tablon, Cagayan de Oro City
16) Bernardita Cuay, 52, of Tablon, Cagayan de Oro City
17) Jolina Molina, 16, of CMU Maramag, Bukidnon
18) Mary Jean Roque, 23, of Dagumbaan, Maramag, Bukidnon
19) Darren May Reyes, 5, of Cugman, Cagayan de Oro City
20) Nenita Labininay, 50, of Cugman, Cagayan de Oro City
21) Nikko Breones
22) Cristel Dagaba, 22, of Pangantucan, Bukidnon
23) Zaldy Pindon
24) Zia Zaren Abejo
25) Shenalyn Corage, 22, of Central Poblacion, Kalilangan, Bukidnon
26) Elliel Curan
27) Marlon Pantolasa, 58, of Busco, Quezon, Bukidnon
28) Maricel Lazar
29) Flodie Bagasina
30) Nikka Esclares, 19, of P-5, Zubiri Coumpond, Casisang, Malaybalay City
31) Jonan Ramos, 38, of Bagontaas, Valencia City
32) Ismael Macatanto
33) Erma Jubajib, 38, of P-10 Batangan, Valencia City
34) Ralph Lyndon Quilla
35) Gabriel Banaag, 31, of P-4 Valencia City
36) Solisa Moleta
37) Jerson Galoroso, 26, of Lantapan, Bukidnon
38) Omar Hassan Aldequer Papuro, 30, of Barangay 7, Malaybalay City
39) Yves Rae Loyola, 24, of P-11, Valencia City
40) Raul Pugoso, 46, of P-3 Tagiubo, Butuan City
41) Luz Ontal Lagulay, 44, of Buffalo, CMU, Musuan, Maramag, Bukidnon
42) Zyndy Magayano, 17, of Mailag, Valencia City.