LTFRB finds irregularities in GV Florida franchise

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Sunday, February 9, 2014

BAGUIO CITY -- The Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) spotted irregularities in the franchise of GV Florida, whose bus fell into a ravine in Bontoc, Mountain Province on Friday, killing at least 14 people.

LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez immediately issued a preventive suspension order on the franchise of GV Florida Bus Transport Inc., which has a fleet of more than 200 buses, 10 of which belong to a certain Norberto Cue Sr. for the Mt. Province Cable Bus Tours.

READ: LTFRB suspends bus firm in fatal Mt. Province crash


Investigation revealed that the ill-fated bus' plate number TXT-872 belongs to Mt. Province CableBus Tours.

Department of Transportation and Communication-Cordillera Director Celina Claver told Sun.Star Baguio that GV Florida only acquired the fleet from Cue last year.

In a report Claver submitted to Ginez, she said the GV Florida bus has been illegally using the plates of Mt. Province Cable Bus Tours and there are no applications filed by the previous operator at the LTFRB for the transfer and sale of the bus units. Also, GV Florida has not been granted permission to use the bus plates and operate the vehicles under their name.

“The plate number was illegally transferred from the previous motor vehicle,” Claver said.

Both GV Florida and Cue could not be reached by Sun.Star Baguio as of press time. The two bus operators were tasked by the LTFRB to explain the irregularities or face revocation of their franchises.

Claver said based on police investigation, there was mechanical failure, explaining the brakes failed during the course of the trip in Sitio Pagang in Barangay Talubin.

The bus came into a sharp curve, hit a slope and then fell into the rice paddy.

The bus came from the Sampaloc, Manila terminal of GV Florida Bus Transport and took the Manila-Nueva Ecija-Banaue-Bontoc route.

Amateur videos taken by local responders showed the bus was split in two; the roof ripped from the bottom portion of the bus, scattering passengers in the slope and rice paddy below. Among the first rescuers were farmers in the area while police and local responders also rushed to the area for rescue and retrieval operations.

Claver said in case of mechanical failure, the franchise of the bus line is placed in peril, stressing it is the responsibility of the bus operator to keep the vehicle in good condition.

In some instances of mechanical failure, she said, the entire franchise could be revoked by the LTFRB.

Cases involving human error, on the other hand, may face lighter penalties since it is the driver of the ill-fated vehicle who usually faces criminal liabilities while the bus drivers of the entire fleet will only have to undertake driving and transport seminars, she added.

Based on the bus plate number, the buses were operating since 2007. But the LTFRB learned it only took the Mountain Province route last year.

Meantime, Mountain Province Police Provincial Office Director Oliver Enmodias said the casualties include TV and film comedian Arvin “Tado” Jimenez, Canadian national Alex Loring, Dutch national Adriana Van Deven and Marcial Baranda, Andrew David Sicam, Natividad Ngawa, Gerald Baja, Ana dela Cruz, Giovani Bam Morillo, Redentor De Lara, Leah Reyes, Emily Gentalian, Katrina Gozos, and Jonathan Patolot.

Jimenez and his company of around a dozen people were headed for Bontoc, and then to Baguio City, before proceeding to Buscalan in Kalinga for an advocacy project.

Among those injured is the bus driver, Alexander Longadey, who is still unconscious, and Dutch national Annenmik Veerwege.

Also injured were Aloy Atin, James Papsao, Carina Havier, Basilan Miluardo Baranhuat, Abegail Sikam, Edgar Ramon, Robert Conrado, Natty Bang-I, Kristina De Leon, Christian Cavardo, Bernard Burnhard, Camille Osorio, Melchor Suagen, Teresita Sawad, Silvestre Dawey, Agung Sikam, Jerymiah Agnapan, Winslaw Cariño, Michell Legrito, Dun Chavez, Jason Melchor, Charlie Santamaria, Peng Cordove, Olivia Aglipay, Estrella Embede, Demetria Danilo, Christian Sibrevilla and a certain Codiamat and Ammik.

Enmodias said the fatalities were at the morgue of Bontoc General Hospital Saturday, waiting for the arrival of their family members.

Bontoc Police Chief Inspector Benjamin Challoy said it took them a long time to determine the identity of 14 people who died in the bus accident due to the severe injuries they suffered.

Challoy said they are still waiting for the filing of criminal charges against the bus driver by the victims' families. (Sun.Star Baguio/Sunnex)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 10, 2014.

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