Bus company stays mum on fatal crash

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

THE Vallacar Transit Corp. failed to submit a report to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) during a hearing yesterday on a bus accident that killed a woman and her five-year-old daughter.

The hearing lasted for only 15 minutes. Legal Officer Edwin Antepuesto, who presided, asked Vallacar’s liaison officers Edwin Alivio and Rogemar Donasco some questions, but several went unanswered.

The LTFRB needs to determine whether the franchise of 10 Ceres bus units, including the one involved in the accident last Monday in Badian town, should remain suspended or not.

Bus driver Erwin Gerson, 42, was detained in a police station after the unit he was driving sped downhill in Barangay Balhaan, hit an electric post and a tree, then fell on its right side.

LTFRB 7 Director Ahmed Cuizon immediately suspended the operations of 10 Vallacar buses for 30 days, pending an investigation.

Vallacar operates 2,500 buses nationwide but only 10 units serve the Guihulngan-Cebu City route and share the same franchise.

When Antepuesto asked in yesterday’s hearing how many passengers the Ceres bus carried, Alivio and Donasco replied that there were 34, based on newspaper reports.

Alivio, however, managed to inform the LTFRB hearing officer that the drivers of the 10 Ceres bus units and the rest of the Vallacar drivers have undergone random drug tests, the latest being just two weeks ago.

Alivio also said that their drivers attended road safety training by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) the law enforcement arm of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC).

The company, however, failed to submit a police or in-house report about the incident.

When Alivio promised to furnish documents to LTFRB as soon as possible, Antepuesto said they need specific information, such as where the bus had come from at the time of the incident, complete records of financial and hospitalization assistance to the victims, and the training records of the drivers.

“We will decide on the case within 30 days, the period indicated in the preventive suspension order,” said Antepuesto. “But the decision will depend on the circumstances as shown in documents or evaluation. The suspension or cancellation of franchise will depend on the evidence.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 18, 2013.

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