Don Mariano Transit, the operator of the bus that plummeted from the Skyway near the Bicutan exit in Parañaque City on Monday morning, has a dismal record of road accidents.
In 2011, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) declared Don Mariano’s fleet as the most dangerous buses in Metro Manila.
The LTFRB compiled a list of the most dangerous buses based on the number of accidents that resulted in deaths, injuries and damage to property.
Don Mariano was not in the list of bus firms that caused the highest number of deaths, but it topped the list of buses that caused the most damage to property.
Two years ago, the LTFRB has warned the bus line to improve its operations and discipline its drivers or its franchise will be cancelled.
Based on the accident yesterday that killed 22 people, the bus firm’s drivers apparently did not heed the warning.
One of Don Mariano buses fell from the Skyway at 5 a.m. yesterday into a van that was traveling on the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX).
Two persons aboard the van died immediately, as well as several bus passengers. Twenty people were injured when the bus, which plies the Novaliches-Pacita route, fell six meters to the road below.
The bus driver identified as Carmelo Calatcat survived but was reported to be in critical condition. He will be tested for drugs and alcohol, according to LTFRB Board Chairman Winston Ginez.
In 2011, three people were killed and four were injured when a bus fell from the same elevated highway.
The LTFRB grounded Don Mariano’s entire fleet of 78 buses.
“We will require them to immediately stop their operation and submit their units for inspection,” Ginez said.
He said the owner of the bus, Dr. Melissa Lim, agreed to recall all the buses for road-worthiness inspection.
“They already have pending cases regarding previous accidents the bus company had been involved in and we are looking into it,” Ginez said.
He said the LTFRB, Land Transportation Office (LTO), Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) and Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group will jointly investigate the accident.
“After the investigation is done, we will study if the franchise will be suspended or totally cancelled,” Ginez said.
He said the victims are automatically covered by insurance.
“The dead people will receive P75,000 and those injured will receive P15,000,” Ginez said. The families of the victims may receive more compensation once a complaint is filed against the bus company.
Malacañang also ordered the accident probed.
Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda confirmed that Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya ordered the LTFRB to ground all units of the Don Mariano Bus Lines for 30 days.
There will be a separate probe on the structural integrity of the Skyway to find out if improvements are needed, Lacierda said.
“Secretary Jun Abaya directed [Toll Regulatory Board] Executive Director Edmund Reyes to study possible infrastructure improvements to prevent a similar incident in the future,” he said.
The TRB will review the footage of the accident caught on its closed-circuit television cameras.
“I think tragedies like these only serve to remind us that we—especially the common carriers—have an obligation in transportation law. They are supposed to have what we call ‘extraordinary diligence.’ So they have that responsibility. It’s more than the diligence of a good father of a family . . . we have been implementing measures to ensure the traffic laws are enforced to the safety of the riding public and also the pedestrians,” he added.