Driver, bus operator to face raps over Skyway accident

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

MANILA (Updated) -- Authorities are set to file case against the operator and driver of the Don Mariano Bus Transit following the fatal bus accident along a Metro Manila Skyway early Monday morning that killed at least 18 passengers.

Superintendent Elizabeth Velasquez, Public Information Officer of the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) said that they are preparing to file charges of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicides, multiple physical injuries and damage to properties, against the driver Mariano Calatcat and the owner of Don Mariano Bus Transit.

Calatcat is still in critical condition and currently under observation at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Parañaque City Doctors Hospital.

[READ: 18 dead as bus falls from Skyway]

“Regardless of whether this is a case of human error or a mechanical problem, the driver and the operator of the bus will be charged,” Velasquez said.

She said they will gather all accounts of eye witnesses and survivors of the tragic accident before they file the case at the Parañaque City Regional Trial Court.

The authorities on the ground noticed during their initial investigation that the ill-fated bus’ rear tires are also quite old, already bald, and have lots of recap patches. The investigators said they are also considering it as one of the factors why the vehicle loses it control during the accident.

The Skyway management has also released the nine-second video footage from the expressway's closed-circuit television (CCTV), which showed the Don Mariano Transit bus did run before the accident took place.

Investigators have estimated the bus was running at the speed of 120 kilometers per hour (kph), which is 40 kph faster on the required 80-kph limit on trucks and buses and 20-kph ahead of the 100-kph limit on private vehicles.

The passenger bus was reportedly less than one-kilometer away from the Skyway's Dr. A. Santos (Sucat) exit when it veered off the highway and crashed below into a closed van with plate number ULX-874 passing along the West Service Road of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx).

Meanwhile, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Tuesday is studying the possibility of revoking the franchise of the Don Mariano Bus Transit.

LTFRB chairperson Winston Ginez said they will closely monitor the possible attempts of the Don Mariano Transit Corporation to re-register under a new name.

In his statement during an interview with Manila-based radio station DZBB, Ginez said that aside from the possibility of total cancellation of the company’s franchise, they are also monitoring application documents and other important papers that will be submitted in their office to prevent any attempt to register under a new name.

“Mamanmanan natin ito. Titingnan natin kung ito ay patago lang para matuloy ang operasyon,” Ginez said during the interview.

He added that the bus company’s seven franchises can be cancelled after the units under its name were involved in three violations, including early Monday morning’s accident.

The LTFRB issued Monday a 30-day preventive suspension against the bus company. [READ: Bus fleet suspended after Skyway accident]

At least 16 survivors were rushed to various nearby hospitals, including the bus driver Calatcat, who is in critical condition due to severe head injuries.

As of Tuesday, only three remaining casualties remain unclaimed in the morgue.

Ginez clarified that the 30-day preventive suspension is just part of their standard operating procedures so that other involved government agencies can start investigating and checking the road worthiness of its other buses.

The Don Mariano Transit has a total of 78 buses.

The LTFRB chief noted that the hearing for case will start by January 7 of next year. (Sunnex)

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