Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Atty. Teofilo Guadiz III

By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.

QUEZON CITY — The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Wednesday (Dec. 6) imposed a 90-day preventive suspension against a Ceres bus company after one of its buses fell into a ravine in Hamtic town, Antique province about 4 p.m. on Tuesday, killing at least 15 passengers.

LTFRB Chief Teofilo Guadiz III ordered the suspension of all the bus units of the Ceres bus plying in the area as well as an immediate investigation into the accident.

“We already issued a 90-day preventive suspension to the entire fleet, meaning to say yung mga bus na nagbabyahe ng rutang ‘yon, there are 15 of them, have already issued a preventive suspension right away,” Guadiz said.

“Ang roadworthiness ay done during the registration but it is incumbent upon the bus company na every time babiyahe ‘yan, sisiguraduhin nila na maayos yung kanilang mga bus. So that’s what I will be looking into, titingnan namin yung ledgers sa terminal kung ano yung condition bago ito umalis, and of course, we will look also into the condition of the driver, ” he added.

Aside from this, the LTFRB has started conducting a site inspection and has been coordinating with the insurance firm for the compensation of the victims.

Guadiz also said that there is already an inter-agency team, including the LTFRB, LTO (Land Transportation Office), and Department of Transportation (DOTr), which is handling the investigation.

Reports have it that the bus was bound for Antique from Iloilo City when it encountered a mechanical failure, and overshot the permanent concrete barrier on the zigzag and mountainuous road in Barangay Igbucagay before falling into a ravine.

Guadiz said that based on the personnel of the Antique Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) who first responded to the accident, among the 53 passengers on board the Ceres bus, 15 were confirmed dead.

As of this writing, retrieval operations are still ongoing and the rescued passengers were rushed to the Angel Salazar Memorial General Hospital in the provincial capitol in San Jose de Buenavista.

Guadiz said that they are looking into reports that the area was reportedly the same spot where a Ceres bus also fell killing two passengers several years ago.

To avoid similar incidents, the LTFRB chief has ordered bus operators to ensure that their vehicles are in good running condition before plying the road, and also check the well-being of their drivers for the safety of the commuting public.

Meanwhile, LTFRB Spokesperson Celine Pialago-Vargas said that the agency is currently verifying and clarifying the number of casualties stemming from Tuesday’s bus accident in Antique.

Vargas said that as of Wednesday, accurate casualty figures are yet to be confirmed, and the LTFRB is diligently coordinating with relevant authorities and agencies to gather accurate information.

She added that a subsequent update will be provided as soon as the LTFRB concludes its comprehensive assessment and verification process.