A LAWMAKER filed a resolution that will look into the string of road accidents, including a passenger bus that fell into a ravine in Benguet last week that killed 42 people.

Cavite lawmaker Elpidio Barzaga said that while most accidents are mainly caused by human error and failure to abide road safety regulations, the government should also take a “proactive stance” in preventing future mishaps.

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Barzaga sought to repeal the Land Transportation and Traffic Code and create a law that would address the road safety problem particularly those involving public utility vehicles.

On June 13, a tourist bus carrying Iranian medical and nursing students fell into a deep ravine in Balamban, Cebu which killed at least 20 people and 30 were injured.

Road worthiness tests

The Land Transportation Office (LTO) will subject the entire Eso Nice Bus fleet to road worthiness test following the involvement of its unit in a tragic road accident in Benguet last week.

LTO Chief Virginia Torres said she has already directed the spearheading of the test on the firm’s 10 passenger buses to prevent similar incident from taking place again.

“Inatasan ko na ang aking mga tauhan na isagawa itong pagsusuri at agad na isumite ang resulta ng imbestigasyon para sa kaukulang aksyon,” she said.

The official further said they are looking at whether the bus company indeed perform similar test on their fleet before allowing it to ply their trade.

Earlier, Rosendo Meneses, counsel of Eso Nice, submitted to the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) a certification dated July 13 showing that the bus which fell of a deep ravine in Sablan town, Benguet was roadworthy.

The company also said its drivers have passed neuro-psychological as well as drug testing conducted early this year.

The Philippine National Police-Traffic Management Group (PNP-TMG) has concluded that mechanical failure and negligence of the driver are the main causes of the accident.

Authorities have suspended the operation of Eso Nice for one month after the deadly mishap.

It also prompted renewed calls for mandatory drug testing among bus drivers, a move aired by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and supported by the LTO and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

Court spares bus operator

The Supreme Court ruled that bus operators are not equally liable as their drivers who have been found guilty of reckless imprudence involving road accidents, nor are they necessarily liable for negligence in their selection of drivers.

In a decision penned by Associate Justice Arturo Brion, the SC reversed the findings of the Court of Appeals which affirmed the ruling of the Calbayog City regional trial court.

The CA held that Philtranco Service Enterprises Inc. should be held “jointly and severally liable” with its bus driver Rolito Calang when the latter was found guilty of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide, multiple physical injuries and damage to property for a road accident that took place 21 years ago.

Calang was sentenced to a jail term of 30 days to four years and two months. The RTC and CA also ordered Calang and Philtranco to pay P50,000 each to the heirs of the two casualties in the accident and P90,083.93 as actual damages to private complainants.

While it upheld Calang’s culpability, the SC said both the trial court and the CA erred in holding the bus company jointly liable with its driver based on quasi-delict under Articles 2176(1) and 2180(2) of the Civil Code. The two articles pertain to the vicarious liability of an employer for quasi-delicts that an employee has committed.

“Since the cause of action against Calang was based on delict, both the RTC and the CA erred in holding Philtranco jointly and severally liable with Calang, based on quasi-delict…Such provision of law does not apply to civil liability arising from delict,” the Court said.

If at all, the SC said Philtranco’s liability “may only be subsidiary,” meaning it can be civilly liable if its driver cannot pay his liability.

The Court issued the decision days after two bus firms were involved in freak road mishaps – the Benguet road accident which killed 42 passengers and the road collision in Camarines Sur that killed beauty queen and her two companions.

The family of Bb. Pilipinas-International 2009 Melody Gersbach reportedly planned to file charges of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and damage to property against the owners of Guevarra Bus Line and the driver of the bus, Wilson de los Santos .

Gersbach, her driver Santos Ramos and manager Alvin Orense, died on the spot after their Toyota Innova car slammed head-on with a Guevarra bus at Barangay Pawili in Bula, Camarines Sur.

With regard to the Benguet road accident, relatives of the victims have started collecting their compulsory insurance coverage. The insurance firm is giving out P60, 000 each for the families of those who died and P12, 500 for those hurt in the mishap.

The Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has suspended for 30 days the validity of the franchises issued by the agency to the ESO-NICE Transport Express Inc. (Virgil Lopez/AH/JCV/Sunnex)