Kin of GV Florida bus crash victims condemn CA decision

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Monday, June 30, 2014


THE survivors and the relatives of those who died in the February 7 crash involving a GV Florida bus condemned on Monday the Court of Appeals (CA) ruling lifting the suspension order issued by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on the bus company.

The CA last week ordered the lifting of the six-month suspension order imposed on the bus company after the bus accident in Bontoc, Mountain Province that killed 14 people, including actor Arvin "Tado" Jimenez.

The court said the LTFRB committed grave abuse of discretion in its decision to suspend the firm's 186 bus units.

"It makes us feel like our lives do not matter, like lives do not matter," Stella Embile, one of the survivors, said in a media briefing.

Embile's group urged LTFRB to review and appeal the CA decision.

The LTFRB had said the bus involved in the accident did not have proper authorization to operate in the said route, citing the use of a license plate registered under Mt. Province Cable Tours and the use of engine and chassis number that were registered to a Dagupan Bus Company unit.

The LTFRB had said there were also human and mechanical errors as they found out that faulty brakes caused the accident.

On Friday, the CA affirmed the cancellation of franchise of 10 GV Florida buses belonging to a similar Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC), or those which are plying routes from Manila to Benguet.

However, the CA said the suspension of GV Florida's 186 units has no legal basis as their CPCs, totaling 28, did not commit the same violation or any violation.

(Video by Third Anne Peralta/Sunnex)

"We do not want to call it an accident because accidents are unavoidable and what happened to us was preventable if only GV Florida did its due diligence in maintaining their buses in good condition," Embile said.

Embile obtained major injury in her arm, requiring doctors to put a metal plate on her left shoulder.

Other survivors, Dino Dinar, Rafael Gordovez and Charley Sta. Maria, underwent operations in the skull, spine, arms and legs.

Dinar said more than the physical trauma, they also have to deal with the psychological and emotional stress.

"Apat na buwan na ang nakakalipas pero hanggang ngayon hindi ko pa rin makuhang sumakay ng bus, naaalala ko kung paano kami nagpa-gewang gewang hanggang mahulog na ang sinasasakyan namin sa bangin, 'yung mga kasama naming na nakita naming na wala nang buhay, lahat 'yun bumabalik pa din sa akin," he said.

Lei Jimenez, Jimenez's wife, joined other relatives of the victims and the survivors in condemning the CA order.

"Ano klase ng sistema ang meron sa transportasyon dito sa ating bansa? Ganoon na laman ba iyon? Ang daming buhay ang nawala," she said.

Jimenez said some people might not be able to understand what they were fighting for since "they were not the ones who have lost their loved ones."

She said that later on, they will realize that "our fight is not just for the victims and for the survivors but for the entire commuters who use public transportation each day, she said.

Chat Baranda, wife of victim Don Baranda, said her family did not get any moral or financial help from the bus company.

"Walang nakikipag-usap sa amin from (GV) Florida bus kahit condolence man lang tapos ngayon malalaman naming na lifted na ang suspension sa kanila," she said.

Baranda said aside from them, there are still other families of the victims and survivors who have not heard anything from the management of the GV Florida citing the cases of victims Karina Javier, Annemiek Verwegen, Mariel Baja and other who chose to "keep quiet and moved on with their lives."

"We, survivors and family of the casualties are already on our road to recovery from our loses, but the sudden lifting of the suspension by the CA and with us not seeing any reform on the part of GV Florida angers us, it frustrates us, it brings back all the hurt that we felt," Embile said.

Lei Jimenez said they are waiting for LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez to call them for a dialogue regarding the case and they hope that the official who initially ordered the suspension of GV Florida will "fight for what he knows is right" and will file a motion for reconsideration before the higher court.

"Tuloy ang laban, hindi lang para sa mga namayapa naming mahal sa buhay pero para sa lahat, hihintayin pa ba natin mangyaring muli ang ganito bago pa kumilos sa gobyerno?" she said.

On his Twitter account, Ginez said, "We are studying our legal options on CA's order to lift the LTFRB suspension on 186 Florida buses covering 28 CPCs."

(Sunnex)

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