Warning: graphic content
Two passengers on a bus were shot dead while traveling in Caranglan in Nueva Ecija on Nov. 15, giving commuters anxiety and raising questions about whether public transport is still safe.
A dashcam video circulating on social media showed two men from the back of the bus walking near the door as they brought out a gun and shot a masked man and a woman sleeping in the front passenger seat. They died instantly after getting shot at point-blank range in the head and neck thrice.
The armed men ordered the driver to open the door as they alight the bus.
According to Bombo Radyo Koronadal, the police identified the victims as Gloria Mendoza Quillano, 60, and Arman Bautista, 55.
In the police report, the incident took place while the bus, a Victory Liner with plate number CAY 3363, was traversing the mountainous side of Brgy. Minuli on its way to Manila at around 12:50 p.m.
Caranglan Police told DZBB that the victims—who own businesses—rode the bus in Cauayan in Isabela. The gunmen, meanwhile, boarded the bus in Bayombong in Nueva Vizcaya.
The bus driver immediately went to the Community Police Assistance Center to report the incident.
Social media users expressed their fears in the comments section of the viral video on Facebook.
“This is so traumatizing for a person who always commutes,” one netizen said.
“Sobrang kinabahan ako… bakit ganito na mga tao ngayon,” another netizen said.
One user wondered whether there’s a “weapon detection system” in public transportation.
“Commuters in the Philippines have never been safe,” another one added.
On Reddit, meanwhile, users wondered how such incidents happen casually.
“Ganun kadali pumatay? Nasa public transpo pa,” one user said.
“Grabe. Tulog lang sila nanay tapos pinatay ng walang kalaban laban,” another user said.
In a press conference on Thursday, Nov. 16, Philippine National Police spokesperson Colonel Jean Fajardo said that they are looking at a personal issue as motive for the crime as Quillano filed a criminal case against her son just recently, in connection to carnapping.
"Sa initial investigation po ay nabanggit ko po na isa ito sa tinitignan natin na posible na maaaring may motibo, dahil bago nga nangyari itong insidente na ito ay mayroong alitan itong biktima sa kanyang anak na kinasuhan niya ito at in fact, naka-blotter ito at on bail lamang itong kanyang anak,” she said.
“Kinausap na rin ito ng ating mga imbestigador subalit ang sinasabi niya ay wala pong siyang alam dito. On the part of Nueva Ecija, nakausap na rin nila 'yung kapatid mismo ng biktima at may mga nakuha silang information na sinasabi na allegedly ay mayroon nga pong nasabi itong biktima na may possible threat against her life,” she continued.
Ricky Rivera, Victory Liner communications consultant, told PhilSTAR L!fe that the bus company is now closely coordinating with the PNP as they continue to look into the case. “We already turned over everything the police needs to complete their investigation,” he said.
Rivera added that they are also helping the bus driver recover from the traumatic event. “We are concerned with the safety and security of our driver. We have provided him with psychological debriefing to ease his trauma,” he continued.
The suspects remain at large, as of writing.
Editor's Note: This article has been updated to add Victory Liner's statement and the victim's son's motive.