WHAT is it in public transport that has led to the assassination of two of its known leaders? This is the question that Davao City Councilor Leonardo Avila III would want to get an answer to as he pushed for a more sustainable transport system in the city.
Avila, chair of committee on transportation and communication, said Tuesday that the deaths of transport leaders Emilio Rivera and Antonio "Dodong" Petalcorin are not an ordinary coincidence and that the City Council should take part by allowing the committee to study the public transport system so as to know why leaders of this sector are at risk.
"I will be looking more not on the killing per se, but on the urban transport. Dili man nato trabaho nang mag imbestiga sa pagpatay (It’s not our job to investigate deaths) but we can look for circumstances that led to it," Avila said in an interview with reporters.
He said all things that affect urban transport such as the drivers’ concern, local and national offices regulating public land transport services, among others, will be part of the study.
"The killing of transport leaders should not be in vain. There has to be justice," he said.
In his privilege speech during the regular session on Tuesday, Avila recalled some certain events in the past 10 months in the city, citing local media reports.
He started recalling the television interview of Rivera and Petalcorin about the alleged corruption cases in Land Transportation and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on October 17, 2012, then the killing of Rivera on January 25 this year, the hurling of hand grenades twice but did not explode at the house of another transport leader Carlos “Toto” Cirilo on April 21 and May 21, and the death of Petalcorin on July 2.
Avila said he is "not trying to impute and put blame on somebody as the mastermind" of the incidents.
"But what I am trying to bring out here is the need to join the mourning call for justice for our transport leaders who are harassed and even killed for standing up for their fellow drivers and operators," he said.
"In fairness also to LTFRB Director Benjamin Go, if he is not involved in these killings, then the more we have to exert efforts to really bring out the truth on who is behind these killings," he added.
The councilor from the first district said they will call on the authorities to act on the investigation and not allow the death of two transport leaders "be just another statistics in the data sheets of the police as another unsolved crime."
Avila also called on the leadership of President Benigno Aquino III to task the Department of Transportation and Communication to address the concerns of transport sectors.
The resolution to study on sustainable public transport in Davao City was approved on first reading under suspended rules on Tuesday.