Blameworthy

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Friday, February 14, 2014


I HOPE Director Romulo Bernardes of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Region 6 knows whereof he speaks.

Bernardes assured commuters that buses plying our national highways in Western Visayas are “road-worthy.”

The basis of his assurance? Ceres Liner owns 70 to 80 percent of the buses plying Western Visayas. Bernardes said Ceres usually conducts mandatory preventive maintenance and their drivers undergo seminars for defensive driving.

Whoa. Hold your horses. Or rein in the buses. That’s what a spokesperson would say, not from the head of an independent neutral regulatory agency would say. Is Bernardes implying that the bus company is one hundred safe that there would be no need for oversight?

Has Bernardes forgotten what happened on December 22, 2013 in Purok Masagana, Barangay Bagumbayan, Valladolid, Negros Occidental when 14 people were injured including Ceres bus passengers?

According to the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, Ceres bus with plate number GXR 598 failed to notice the red tricycle ahead of it. When the Ceres bus driver tried to avoid a collision, he hit the tricycle instead. Then the bus driver swerved to the left, bumped into a green Isuzu truck.

How about that accident on March 25, 2013 when a Ceres bus with plate number FWG 951 skidded an elevated portion of the road and lost its balance and fell injuring the driver and bus conductor?

Am I nitpicking? I think not. Because road accidents can happen either due to mechanical problems or driver errors.

The point is that our regulatory bodies cannot take things for granted. No company in its right mind would want accidents.

On the other hand, the lack of regulatory oversight could also tempt companies to take shortcuts to increase revenues – sometimes to the detriment of the riding public.

Mind you, in the Bontoc accident that killed comedian Arvin “Tado” Jimenez and 14 others, the bus company GV Florida Transport had a fine record. The incident was its first major accident since 1958.

Well, the LTFRB was caught napping. It found out that the 228 ill-fated G.V. Florida Transport bus was issued with a license plate that belonged to another bus to make it appear it could be used as a hired vehicle.

The board also found out that the bus was authorized under the name of Norberto Cue, who had not filed an approval for the sale and transfer to Florida Transport.

There is nothing wrong with oversight. If everything is in order, the bus companies and the riding public have nothing to fear.

But when things go wrong, as what happened in Bontoc and in the Skyway in Metro Manila, who should be blamed? The errant bus company? Or LTFRB for failing to regulate these vehicles?

(bqsanc@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on February 14, 2014.

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