CHRISTMAS will never be the same again for the family of Joselito Diaz Patalinghug, the 70-year-old habal-habal rider who died in a road collision early morning of December 25, 2023 at the first Mactan-Mandaue bridge in Cebu.
In an interview with the media on Tuesday, December 26, Fortunata Patalinghug, 74, lamented how loving and hardworking her husband was.
Fortunata said Joselito was their family's breadwinner. He never failed to provide assistance for their children and grandchildren and he was also her confidant.
She said her husband went out early on Christmas Day with his motorcycle without them knowing he would be working.
Fortunata said her heart shattered when one of their neighbors informed them of her husband's death several hours later.
"Wala sya'y giingon namo basta milakaw ra sya. Wala mi kahibaw asa sya padulong. Dong, pasko pa gyud ko nimo gibiyaan. Kinsa na man lay sultian nako’s akong mga problema?" the wife said.
(He didn't say anything to us. He just walked away. We didn't know where he was going. Dong, you left me at Christmas. Now, who can I tell my problems to?)
She said her husband initially planned to purchase lechon to celebrate the New Year.
Initial investigation by the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office (LLCPO) revealed that Patalinghug and his passenger, Jay Anunsa-on, were traveling ahead of a taxi cab driven by Jose Embalzado toward Mandaue City when a sport utility vehicle (SUV) hit them around 7 a.m. Monday, December 25.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Christian Torres, head of LLCPO's City Investigation and Detection Management Unit, said the SUV driven by John Mark Argabio counter-flowed downhill the bridge heading to Maximo V. Patalinghug Jr. Avenue in Barangay Pajo, Lapu-Lapu City.
Torres said the impact led the motorcycle rider to hit his head on the SUV's windshield, while his backrider fell into a portion of the bridge's railing 24 meters from the impact zone.
He said first responders rushed Patalinghug and Anunsa-on to a nearby hospital, but the habal-habal driver’s severe head injury led to his death.
Patalinghug was declared dead on arrival by the attending physician.
Anunsa-on sustained multiple fractures, but Torres said that he was already in a stable condition as of Tuesday, December 26.
The LLCPO said no other individuals were injured in the incident.
Torres said the SUV driver, Argabio, confessed in an interview that he had not slept since Christmas Eve after having a drinking session in his residence and visiting his girlfriend.
Police believe Argabio could have dozed off while driving.
Torres said that Argabio's family had already coordinated with the victims' kin to shoulder the hospital and burial expenses. They would also pay for the damage incurred by the taxi cab.
Fortunata said they had already received P350,000 from the suspect's party, but she admitted that she wished to have Argabio be placed accountable for what happened, but they lacked financial means.
Torres said, though, that the LLCPO will continue to file charges against Argabio for violating Republic Act 10586, or the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013. He said they will forward his driver's license to the Land Transportation Office for possible revocation.
"We will file the case even if it is settled so that the drivers involved in this kind of incident will think that the settlement is not that easy," said Torres.
As of December 17 to 23, LLCPO recorded 1,895 traffic violation incidents during checkpoints and on-the-ground apprehensions of erring drivers.
The police office could not identify, however, if drunk driving falls in the top of the list. (HIC)