VALLACAR Transit Inc. (VTI), operator of Ceres Liner buses, appealed to the public to suspend their judgments against its bus drivers involved in road accidents.

VTI legal and media relations manager Jade Seballos said all Ceres drivers underwent a thorough screening process before and during their employment.

Bus drivers are provided with proper training in partnership with the Land Transportation Office and the Technical Education Skills Development Authority, the VTI representative said in a radio interview.

Seballos also assured the commuting public that a separate investigation is being conducted by the bus company on all road accidents involving its buses.

A bus driver will only be allowed to continue serving VTI if proven that the road accident is not his fault, she said.

Over the weekend, two road accidents involving Ceres buses took place in Negros Occidental.

Ian John Alsiahawe, an engineer from Dingle, Iloilo, died when the sports utility vehicle he was driving hit a Ceres bus along the national highway of E.B. Magalona town in northern Negros.

The victim was rushed to the Teresita L. Jalandoni Memorial Provincial Hospital in Silay City where the attending physician pronounced head injuries as cause of his death.

Alsiahawe was bound for Bacolod while the Ceres bus was going north towards Escalante City when the collision happened at about 6:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Eight bus passengers were injured, and were brought in the provincial hospital.

A cook of an eatery situated near the crash scene spilled the soup on herself and burned her skin off when she saw the road accident. She was also treated in the same hospital.

“VTI shouldered the treatment of those injured and also the burial expenses of Alsiahawe,” Seballos said.

At about 9:30 p.m. on Friday, four bus passengers were injured after a Ceres bus hit a tree in Barangay Abis, Mabinay, Negros Oriental.

Bus passenger Rina Amacio said a passenger believed to be clinically insane took control of the steering wheel.

The unidentified passenger allegedly turned the bus to the right, hitting a banana tree.

Seballos, however, expressed disbelief that the suspect was out of his mind.

She said the man jumped off the window after the incident and fled.

An investigation conducted by the VTI showed the suspect may have had a criminal motive in taking the steering wheel from the driver, Seballos said.

While the bus was on its way to Bacolod City from Dumaguete City, the suspect yelled that he wanted the bus to have a stopover. He said he wanted to smoke.

The driver resisted as he feared for the safety of the passengers.

The bus eventually made a short stop in downtown Mabinay to give the passengers time to attend to their personal needs, Seballos added.

Last week, three Ceres buses also figured in two separate accidents in southern Negros, one of which left two persons dead.

On May 16, two were killed while three others were injured when a Suzuki Carry van and Ceres bus collided with each other at about 2 p.m. in Barangay Taloc, Bago City,

Police identified the fatalities as Mark Joseph Madelo, 24, and his sister Shania, 8. Injured were their parents Milo and Mary Ann as well as bus passenger Joselito Saraet, 51.

In Hinigaran town, two Ceres buses were also involved in a road accident at Sitio Cadulonan on the same day. No injuries were reported.*