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18 die in Skyway crash

16 Others Injured; LTFRB Suspends Don Mariano Transit’s Operations

Manila Bulletin

GRUESOME BUS ACCIDENT – Graphic shows how the Don Mariano Transit bus fell off the elevated Skyway of the South Luzon Expressway, hitting a closed van on the service road in Bicutan, Parañaque City, on Dec. 16, 2013. Left, newspaper sheets cover the bodies of the 18 victims of the horrific accident. (Michael Varcas)

Manila, Philippines – A passenger bus fell from the top of the Skyway to the ground 9.6 meters below, hitting a passing van in a horrific accident killing 18 and injuring 16 others at dawn yesterday.

Police described the accident as one of the worst in recent memory and that it happened as the country began its long celebration of the Christmas season, adding one more to the list of debilitating calamities that has buffeted the country this year.

Miraculously, the passenger and driver of the delivery van survived the accident. Also surviving with serious injuries was the driver of the bus.

Asleep Or Sleepy?

Many of those killed, police said, apparently were asleep or sleepy on their way to La Pacita, the final destination of the Don Mariano commuter bus that began its ill-fated trip in Novaliches, Quezon City in the early morning hours yesterday.

Many died on the spot but some others expired at various hospitals near the scene of the accident, which is several kilometers from the Magallanes Interchange and some four kilometers to the Bicutan exit.

The bus was facing north when it landed on top of the van. Both were mangled beyond description. The bus was lying on its passenger side, the wheels almost facing the sky.

Rescuers began pulling the bodies several minutes after the accident which awakened the neighborhood although it happened just before the rush hour at 6 a.m.

Many of the victims never reached the hospitals and the bodies were lined up in the street covered with newspapers as police and rescuers worked their way through the mangled steel, broken seats, and shattered windows of the Don Mariano bus.

Worst Accident

“This is the worst accident that happened in Metro Manila in the past years that I know,” said Supt. Elizabeth Velasquez, spokesperson of the police’s Highway Patrol Group (HPG).

Quoting reports from their field investigators, Velasquez said the accident occurred while the Don Mariano Bus with plate number UVC-916 was traveling along the southbound lane of the Skyway a few minutes before 6 a.m.

A survivor who gave his name as Pepe Padilla, 54, said the bus suddenly swerved along the Skyway before it lost control and plunged to the West Service Road.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the accident but the highway was wet from rain, said Ivy Vidal, a spokeswoman from Skyway Operations and Maintenance Corp.

Overspeeding?

Irene Sisperes, a motorist who witnessed the accident, said she was driving with her daughter at 80 kilometers per hour on the way to Lucena when the bus overtook her car. She estimated that the bus was traveling at between 100 kilometers per hour and 110 kph.

She said it was still dark and it was raining when the accident happened.

“After a few meters, I saw the bus fall and I shouted, ‘The bus fell, the bus fell’,” she told DZMM radio, adding there were no other cars nearby.

A CCTV camera showed the bus applied the brakes twice as shown by the tail lights but he already lost control of the vehicle by then.

Sisperes said she saw the damaged railing of the highway and some debris and reported the incident at the toll gate.

Senior Supt. Sheldon Jacaban, HPG deputy director, said a total of 18 people were confirmed dead based on the hospital scouring conducted by his men.

He said 13 of the fatalities were taken but were declared dead at the Taguig-Pateros Hospital while a certain Rolly Borres succumbed to serious injuries at the Parañaque Doctors Hospital.

Jacaban said four other fatalities were traced at the Amigos Funeral Parlor in Bicutan, Taguig City.

“Based on the report, 14 of the fatalities were male while the remaining four were female. We still don’t have their identity,” said Jacaban in an interview yesterday afternoon.

A total of 16 people were confirmed to have been injured, 14 of them male.

Some of them were identified as Ericson Balajadia, Benjie Albunag, Rebecca Tolentino, Ofelia Esnec, Fernando Talagro, Dionisio Tasara, Rolando Valero, Lino Teodorico, Ryan Brecia and Lexter Leona. All of them were taken to the Parañaque Doctors Hospital.

A certain Lolita Rance is currently at the ICU of the South Super Highway Medical Center.

All of the cadavers, he said, were taken to the police’s Southern Police District for autopsy.

Yves Chiapco, special liaison to the office of Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Executive Director Roberto Cabrera, said some of the victims they interviewed revealed that the driver of the Don Mariano Bus appeared to be sleepy.

Roused From Nap?

“We were told that when the driver was roused from what appeared to be a nap, he accidentally stepped on the accelerator instead of the brakes,” Chiapco told the Manila Bulletin in an interview at the HPG Office at Camp Crame.

This could be the reason, according to Chiapco, the bus rammed on the railings and later fell down on its side.

The driver of the bus was identified as Carmelo Calatcat who is now confined at the Parañaque Doctors Hospital.

Chiapco revealed that the entire fleet of the Don Mariano Bus was suspended pending the result of the investigation.

Mandatory Suspension

LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez said the gravity of the accident has convinced the agency to place the entire fleet under the mandatory 30-day preventive suspension instead of the few bus units under the same franchise covering the ill-fated bus.

Although the LTFRB has yet to issue its preventive suspension order against Don Mariano Transit, Ginez said he has called up the bus company to verbally order them to temporarily stop from operating. The Don Mariano Transit Corp. has a total of 78 authorized bus units.

“There will be due process at the course of the investigation and formal hearing,” said Chiapco.

Senior Police Officer 2 (SPO2) Isidra Dumlao, traffic investigator from Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG), identified four of the 18 fatalities who are all bus passengers as Roger Orquejo, Mary Anne Superio, Roberto Bautista and Arnold Jeminos.

All the fatalities, according to Dumlao, were taken to the Amigos Funeral Homes in Bicutan, Taguig City.

Dumlao, meanwhile, said that two of those injured – the bus driver and the driver of the closed van – were identified as Carmelo Calatcat and Gilbert Montellana.

Calatcat, according to reports, was reportedly in serious condition. Both were taken to the Parañaque Doctors Hospital.

Dumlao said 14 other people who were injured were taken to various hospitals such as the Ospital ng Muntinlupa, Taguig-Pateros District Hospital (TPDH), Southsuper Highway Hospital and Parañaque Medical City.

How It Started

Dumlao said that based on initial investigation, Calatcat was driving the bus – a Don Mariano bus transit with plate number (UVC-916), traversing the Skyway heading southbound at 5:30 a.m. Monday when it reportedly fell on a close van with plate number (ULX-874), Armela Compound, Liway West Service Road, Barangay Marcelo Green, Parañaque City.

Dumlao said that according to survivors, the bus driver was reportedly driving fast. She added that it was also raining at the time.

“According to the survivors, nagpagewang-gewang daw ang bus bago tumama sa railings at tuluyang mahulog mula sa Skyway. Nung mahulog, nadaganan niya ang closed-van na tumatakbo sa West Service Road,” Dumlao said during an interview.

“Mabilis daw ang patakbo ng driver habang tumatakbo ng southwest direction papunta ng Alabang,” she added.

Dumlao said there was no indication that the driver was sleepy while he was driving.

“Aalamin din natin kung nakainum ba siya. Makikita din natin sa resulta ng medical examination kung under influence siya ng droga,” she added.

Dumlao said there were some 32 passengers inside the passenger bus.

She added that the belongings of those who were killed are currently under their custody.

“Iyung names ng ibang namatay at sugatan patuloy pa rin namin inaalam. Nakikipag-coordinate na din kami sa kanilang mga kamag-anak,” Dumlao said.

One Of The Worst Accidents

Dumlao, during the same interview, said that the accident along Skyway is one of the worst traffic accidents to have ever occur in the area.

She said that based on the records of the PNP-HPG, the last major bus accident to occur along Skyway was in 2011.

“Sa record namin, ito na ang pinaka-worst na bus accident na naitala namin,” she said.

History Of Accidents

This was not the first time Don Mariano Transit figured in a road accident.

On July 4, 2012, one of its units was involved in an accident at the EDSA-Ortigas Flyover, injuring eight people.

It also figured in accidents in August, 2011; January, 2011; November, 2010; January, 2010; and October 2009.

Non-Compliant

Meanwhile, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said Don Mariano Transit Corp. has failed to comply with the required labor inspection to be eligible for the renewal of its franchise to operate.

In a radio interview, Labor spokesman Nicon Fameronag said Don Mariano Transit Corp. has been operating without the necessary Labor Standards and Compliance Certificate (LSCC).

LSCC is a mandatory requirement for bus companies before they could apply for a franchise at the LTFRB.

Fameronag said the LSCC of Don Mariano Transit Corp. expired last July 17. (With reports from Rizal Obanil, Kris Bayos, and Samuel Medenilla)

 

  • K_magnet

    Overnight solution. Put highway patrol units in expressways with laser speed readers. Issue tickets to the drivers, if the same driver gets 3 speeding tickets in 1 year, automatically revoke his professional license. That will make him think twice about overspeeding. Do not blame the skyway for this tragedy. All vehicles have brake pedals on them, all you have to do is use it…

  • kidlot

    Kawawa naman ang Ibang Driver at Kundoctor na may pamilya… pa-ano naman sila… may anak na nag-aaral at tiyan na kailangan lamanan…Pa-ano naman ang bukas!

  • Dancing Bear

    They will pull over my revo for a random smoke belching test while buses and jeeps that pay payola pass us bye belching smoke!

  • Dancing Bear

    The driver must be made to attend the funerals of each of the dead.

    • kreckho

      Ang hilig ninyo sa drama. What for? Para magpakamatay ang driver sa sama ng loob. Solution ba yan?

      • Oscuro

        Oh dude it’s not drama…..he deserves everything that can be thrown at him. Including the bus.

        • K_magnet

          Throw him under the bus. He was a reckless jerk that caused death to many innocent civilians….

          • kreckho

            Ang lupit naman ninyo, kung tatay mo ang driver ng bus na naacsidente ano naman ang sasabihin. Ikulong ninyo ang tatay ko dahil kasalanan niya ito. Dalhin ninyo sa funeral at latigo ninyo dahil sa kasalanan niya.

          • K_magnet

            YES….reckless imprudence resulting in multiple deaths and injuries ang tawag dyan kreckho. And someone has to answer for it….

  • Joey

    First of all, my sympathy and condolences to those who died in the accident.

    Though, in some point the driver and the operator of the bus should be
    blamed but the operator and the management of the skyway (Skyway O&M
    Corporation (SOMCO) must be partly to be blame also considering that
    the height of the skyway barriers or railings are too short (even though
    it is within international standard).

    As a matter of comparison, the tire height of the bus is above the
    concrete part and seems the railing on top of the concrete is about a
    foot tall only.

    You may noticed after the accident that the concrete barrier didn’t move
    nor have a crack on it but the railings was gone to nowhere after
    forcefully hit by the speeding bus. The bolted steel railings no matter
    how hard or strong it was built has no matched with the speeding bus
    with passengers on it.

    SOMCO must recheck the concrete and steel railings of the Skyway,
    take a corrective action so to avoid the accident happen in future.
    Remember, as an adage says as I quote, ” Prevention is better than
    cure”…so to prevent this to happen again I am requesting SOMCO
    especially its President Mr. Manuel Bonoan to kindly look into this matter and do the necessary
    action to install a much higher concrete barrier on each side of the
    Metro Manila Skyway. Thank you. JAM

    • kreckho

      Nnadiyan na yan kaya wala ng magagawa, sa susunod baka pwede mo e-design ito at ibigay mo kay Pnoy para maindehan niya.

    • kreckho

      Nnadiyan na yan kaya wala ng magagawa, sa susunod baka pwede mo e-design ito at ibigay mo kay Pnoy para maindehan niya.

  • JD Cruz

    Ineffifciency and Negligence Kills Innocent People! The Bus Driver, Company Owner and the Heads of Concerned Gov’t Regulating and Implementing Agencies should all go to JAIL for MURDER!

    • kreckho

      Kawawa naman ang driver pasko naman. Sa palagay mo ba ginusto ito ng driver? Gusto na ba niyang mamatay? Ang sagot ditto hindi. Solution na lang para ito maiwasan. Ang makipot na kalsada nandiyan na. Ano ba ang mabuting solution ditto, Ikaw na lang kaya ang magmaneho para ligtas. Ang problema mr cruz gusto nilang kumita ng malaki kaya sila nagmamadali. Ano sa palagay mong solution. Maraming technology na pwedeng ilagay sa sasakyan para macontrol ang takbo ng sasakyan, pwede nila gawin ito ng gobyerno, gastusan na lang ni Pnoy at lagyan lahat ng public bus para hindi sila makatakbo ng matulin.