LTO to be blamed for 'uso-uso' jeeps

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

DAVAO City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said Sunday that the Land Transportation Office (LTO), not the City Government, should take the lead in running after reckless drivers.

"The city can only do so much," Duterte said in his regular television program "Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa" Sunday morning.

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He said it is the LTO under the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) that is mandated by law to catch traffic violators.

Duterte said vehicles with modified engines more powerful than ordinary ones should have not been registered by the LTO, but nothing is being done about it. Worse, the "uso-uso" vehicles are even granted franchise by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), he said.

The vice mayor's reaction came following the fatal car crash involving an uso-uso public utility jeepney (PUJ) and a 10-wheeler truck that killed nine passengers, including a pregnant woman, Friday morning along McArthur Highway in Bago Gallera, Davao City.

Two of the victims died on the spot, while the others expired later in a hospital.

Fourteen passengers were injured in the mishap; some of them in critical condition. They were brought to the Southern Philippines Medical Center, San Pedro Hospital, Davao Doctors College and Brokenshire.

Those who perished were identified as Nancy Diaz, Evelyn Rafales, Josefina Roble, Ruby Jane Roble, Zaldy Lorono, Joya Analiza, Jay Samling and Genibeth Roble, who was pregnant when the accident happened.

The driver of the truck, Joel Pilone Recopelacion, is now detained at the Talomo Police Station and facing charges of reckless imprudence resulting to multiple homicide, multiple physical injuries and damage to properties.

Uso-uso jeepneys are rigged with powerful truck engines to enable them to run faster. They also feature loud music, making these vehicles attractive to the youth, especially students.

A good number of the uso-uso jeepneys ply the Bunawan, Calinan and Toril routes in the city.

Duterte said the LTO must arrest the abusive drivers since personnel from the Traffic Management Center (TMC) and members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) are only deputized to catch traffic violators.

He also reiterated his warning to passengers to call the drivers' attention when they are running at high speed and to disembark from the vehicle if the drivers refuse to listen.

"Mamatay gyud mo niana (Otherwise, you will be killed)," he said.

Even then, Duterte said he wants LTO to really man the streets and apprehend abusive drivers in the city.

He is also calling for a modification of existing traffic laws as he wants stricter penalties against erring drivers.

Duterte also asked City Mayor Sara Duterte to immediately call the LTO and other agencies involved in traffic law enforcement to a meeting to come up with a more effective approach against abusive drivers.

When Duterte was still mayor last year, a fatal vehicular accident also involving an uso-uso jeep occurred in Calinan, killing several passengers.

The incident infuriated Duterte, prompting him to declare an all-out war against uso-uso drivers back then. (CRAM/With Alger Dura of Sun.Star SuperBalita Davao)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 27, 2010.

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