CARRANGLAN, Nueva Ecija -- Mayor Mary B. Abad yesterday called on the national government to undertake the construction of an alternate route in the Dalton Pass to prevent the occurrence of deadly road accidents like what transpired in Bgy. Capintalan the other day when a full-packed passenger bus plunged into a 100-foot ravine along a treacherous zigzag road, killing at least 32 passengers and wounding 46 others.
Abad blamed drivers for the frequent road accidents that occurred in the area.
“We have already installed signages saying that it is a sharp curve so drivers of various types of vehicles should slow down when approaching this site. The problem with these drivers is that they are reckless,” she said.
Abad said it is high time for the national government to pursue the construction of an alternate route to Dalton Pass which will skirt the Capintalan portion.
She described the site as “accident-prone” since during the previous years passenger buses and big trailer-trucks carrying sacks of palay also fell into the area which is located in a sharp curve.
This developed as the death toll in the said deadly bus crash rose to 32 as of 5 a.m. yesterday and the injured at 46, provincial police director Senior Supt. Antonio C. Yarra said.
He said the death toll swelled as other wounded victims who were earlier declared in critical condition succumbed in hospitals where they were initially rushed.
Yarra said the ill-fated Leomarick Transit bus (AVZ-757) driven by Rolando Mangawang was bound for Candon, Ilocos Sur via La Union after coming from Isabela when it crashed into a 100-foot ravine along the Maharlika Highway in Sitio Nursery, Bgy. Capintalan at 11 a.m. Tuesday.
The driver lost control of the steering wheel when one of the front wheels of the bus reportedly exploded, causing the vehicle to plunge into the ravine.
Before the fall, Yarra said the driver evaded the rows of residential houses. Earlier, it was reported that some of the passengers were seen screaming for help and sticking their heads outside the windows before the deadly bus descent.
Meanwhile, a team of officials from the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB), led by board member and spokesperson Atty. Aileen Lizada, personally inspected the crash site yesterday morning.
Aside from assuring the crash victims of financial aid worth P100,000 each, Lizada said they want to determine the violations or infractions committed and the sanctions that could be imposed against the operator of Leomarick Transbus, identified as Leonardo Patulot, of Tabora St., Consolacion (Poblacion) Agoo, La Union.
Lizada said a preventive suspension order maximum of 30 days will be issued against the bus operator.
She also ordered the LTFRB regional office to immediately put up desks to assist the victims.
Lizada said she wants the P100,000 financial aid or insurance be given directly to the victims and not coursed through the bus operator.
During the site inspection, she also noted the absence of appropriate safety and road sign warnings for drivers and commuters in the accident site.
Meanwhile, a lawmaker is calling the attention of the LTFRB to make its monitoring and inspection on buses stricter.
Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas said he intends to file a House resolution calling for an investigation into the bus that fell into a 100-foot ravine in Nueva Ecija.
According to Vargas, the LTFRB should not be lax in determining the road worthiness of these buses, both public and tourist.
“It is indeed, another sad day for Juan dela Cruz. After the Bestlink bus tragedy just a couple of months ago, another road accident, supposedly caused by a failed break murdering 31 passengers and severely injuring many more, happened again,” Vargas said.
“Our authorities in the transportation sector must once and for all act stronger against buses that are not road-worthy,” he added.
The solon slammed the LTFRB, saying “these coffins on wheels must no longer be allowed to take passengers.”
In connection with the bloody bus accident in Nueva Ecija, Engr. Alberto Suansing of the Philippine Global Road Safety Partnership (PGRP) said, “Sadly, the bloody bus accident would be happening again!”
Suansing, in an interview, stressed that both the government and bus operators should strictly practice road safety.
“Dapat ang Land Transportation Office at Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board ay mahigpit na ipatupad ang inspection rules at ang mga transport operators at driver ay dapat sensitive din, kahit may konting sira ang sasakyan, ipagawa muna at huwag ibiyahe. Alisin ’yung ugaling pwede na ’yan,” he said.
In separate interview Engineer Alex Yaque, executive director and spokesman of Provincial Bus Operators Associations of the Philippines (PBOAP), asked for a parallel investigation into the bloody incident.
“Very unfortunate and PBOAP consoles with the victims. We recommend a very thorough investigation on what caused the accident so we can determine what solution are needed,” said Yaque.
Also, the LTO confirmed that the bus involved in the bloody incident was a rebuilt. Based on record, the bus was first registered in 2006 in LTO-Region 1.
An expert of LTO confirmed that once a vehicle was rebuilt, its safety is already compromised.