Owner of ill-fated tourist bus faces raps-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
THE operator of the ill-fated tourist bus, which collided with a cargo truck in Benguet last Thursday, killing seven students and injuring 34 others, could face criminal and administrative charges.
Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC)-Cordillera Director Celina Claver said the vehicle (plate number AFB-769), which was classified as a colorum bus, has a pending application before the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
“This means the bus does not have a tourist transport franchise to speak of. Administratively, on our part, we can only file cases for colorum vehicle violations and reckless driving,” Claver said.
The bus was carrying graduating Bachelor of Science in Tourism (BST) students from the Marinduque State College (MSC) last February 21 when the accident happened.
Claver said the rest, including the agency’s decision on the pending application of the tourist bus company, will still be decided by the LTFRB in Manila.
The bus company only applied for a franchise last February 12 in Ilocos Region, Claver added.
The DOTC official said they can only impose sanctions to existing franchises of the tourist bus company.
She said criminal charges will have to be filed by affected parties to the bus driver and the company.
The LTFRB advised the public to verify the franchises of buses they intend to hire for long trips such as field trips, as it is their only way to ensure that passengers are covered by travel insurance and the travel company to have a liability during accidents.
Seven passengers including two students, two teachers, a tour guide, and the assistant bus driver, died in the incident.
Police Regional Office Cordillera Chief Superintendent Benjamin Magalong said some 12 injured passengers were able to go home on Sunday to Marinduque with help extended by the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), which offered its M-35 trucks for the transport of victims and their families, including the fatalities.
Some of the victims were transferred to the Philippine Orthopedic Hospital over the weekend after sustaining fractures.
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) assistant regional director for administration Janet Armas said they conducted stress debriefing to the passengers prior to their send-off.
Magalong said several others are still in the hospital accompanied by their family members, including the driver Roger Agbayalde, who is still recuperating at the BGHMC.
Magalong added the aggrieved parties could file criminal charges against the bus company and its driver for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicides.
School authorities may also face criminal liability for the deaths of their students.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 27, 2013.