The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board yesterday preventively suspended 10 Ceres buses of Vallacar Transit Inc. covered by a franchise to ply the EB Magalona, Negros Occidental, route, pending investigation into the death of three and injury of 10 in the town.
Three persons, two of them minors, were killed, and 10 were injured, when a Ceres bus headed north swerved out of control on the highway in Barangay Damgo, EB Magalona, Tuesday.
LTFRB Regional Director Romulo Bernardes said a hearing will be held at the LTFRB office in Iloilo on Monday where VTI will be given the opportunity to show cause why it should not be penalized.
The 30-day suspension on the 10 buses is preventive in nature, without prejudice to Vallacar’s filing a motion to lift such order, he added.
The initial report they got is that a vehicle cut the path of the Ceres bus, causing it to swerve and resulted in the accident, but the matter is still subject to further investigation, Bernardes said.
Bus driver Jess Amable Martinez, 44, allegedly tried to overtake a vehicle in front of him but hesitated because of an approaching truck on the opposite lane of a curving road. As Martinez returned to his lane, he hit the brakes to avoid hitting the vehicle in front, causing the bus to swerve to the right and hit the houses beside the highway where a group of people playing bingo were gathered, a police report said Tuesday.
But Martinez claimed he swerved his vehicle to avoid another coming from the shoulder of the road that suddenly made a U-turn, Inspector Leonardo Cubing, EB Magalona deputy police chief, said.
The bus slammed into two houses, hitting 13 people as it fell into a canal.
Killed were Florida Pelagio, 38, and her son, Gaspar Pelagio, 6, and Jillianne Lamis, 1.
In a press release yesterday, VTI expressed its deepest sympathy to the victims of the tragedy in Barangay Damgo, and assured that it is assisting the victims and the families of the deceased.
“The incident saddened us considering this time of the year. We would like to assure the family of the deceased, the injured victims, as well as the general riding public, that the hospitalization and burial expenses are being taken care of,” the press statement said.
The firm said it will do its utmost effort to help the families of the victims to ease the burden of losing their loved ones.
“Our initial investigation revealed that a multicab suddenly made a u-turn, catching our driver by surprise, thus, making him swerve the bus to avoid hitting said multicab,” the press release said.
In its press release, VTI also assured the riding public that its buses are 100 percent reliable and safe and continually undergo periodic check up every three days of their normal wear and tear, brakes, tires, steering wheels and other critical parts.
It also said VTI conducts a weekly seminar for its drivers on proper bus handling such as maximum permissible speed, breaking distance, proper gear shifting, proper breaking action and periodic and continual training on traffic rules and regulations.
“All these preventive measures are our way of ensuring the riding public of a safe and comfortable journey,” the VTI press release said.*CPG