CEBU CITY - President Benigno Aquino III ordered a thorough investigation on the tragic bus accident in Toledo City, Cebu that left 15 people dead and at least 49 wounded last week.

Aquino said he has already directed Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Jesus Versoza to look deeper into the case and report to him directly for developments.

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"Gusto kong tutukan ng PNP chief at may ina-atasan yata ako, kung hindi ako nagkakamali ang Highway Patrol Group, na talagang imbestigahan kung ano ba talaga ang nagyari d'yan (I've assigned the Highway Patrol Group to investigate)," he said, referring to the bus mishap last Saturday.

A bus operated by Corominas Bus Liner rammed a concrete fence in Barangay Don Andres Soriano after the vehicle's brake, according to the driver, malfunctioned.

Some of those killed were children. Survivors were taken to the nearest hospital.

Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia on Thursday ordered the provincial social welfare officer to immediately release the cash assistance for the victims.

Recipients will include passengers injured in the accident after she learned their bills were mounting and they could no longer afford to buy medicines.

Meanwhile, the President said not only is it important to know what caused the accident, but someone should also be held accountable for it.

He said every accident has become an ordinary misfortune.

How come faulty wiring is to blame for all fire incidents? If that were the case, how come none of the persons who approved the electric plan were charged," he said.

On gross negligence of duty at the expense of someone's life, somebody has to face and answer for his responsibility, Aquino pointed out.

Justice

He said authorities should ensure justice is served to the victims, even if it is just a simple accident, adding that the root cause of any mishap must always be corrected.

On Thursday, Governor Garcia called for a meeting with transport stakeholders to discuss road safety and security, following several accidents in Cebu in the past weeks resulting in the death of more than 40 people.

During the meeting, Land Transportation Office 7 Director Raul Aguilos promised to deputize policemen assigned in different municipalities so they can apprehend drivers who violate traffic rules against overloading and speeding.

The Cebu Provincial Police Office under Senior Superintendent Erson Digal will also conduct random drug tests on drivers.

Aguilos, in a meeting with bus operators early this week, said while drivers are required to undergo drug tests during the renewal of their license, the license is valid for three years and within this period, the LTO cannot monitor them.

Aguilos said the training and value seminar for all bus drivers will start next week in Cebu. They will undergo written and practical examinations before the LTO issues them a certificate ID as proof they passed the test.

Roadworthiness

Also during their meeting with Garcia, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board 7 Director Benjamin Go said the biggest problem in the bus transport industry is some units are not roadworthy.

Go wants to modernize the bus transport as there are new investors willing to operate new buses. He said new investors can't operate here in Cebu because they are opposed by local bus operators who don't want competition.

Existing bus operators said it is very costly to upgrade their buses, as fuel prices are fluctuating while bus fares are low.

Garcia will also call a separate meeting with officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways to discuss the placing of more traffic signs in different roads, especially in accident-prone areas. (EOB of Sun.Star Cebu/Jill Beltran/Sunnex)