Don Mariano buses ‘most dangerous’

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Bodies of victims are piled near the Don Mariano bus that plummeted from the Skyway Monday morning. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN

Bodies of victims are piled near the Don Mariano bus that plummeted from the Skyway Monday morning. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN

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.

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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.

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5 Comments

  1. As normal the government is fast to point fingers and lay blame. The only ones that should feel the guilt of this tragedy is the government and owners of all public transport.
    There is no or very little traffic enforcement by local or national government. No or very little followup on companies or owners that are suppose to be fined or disciplined.
    By enforcing traffic code equally and fairly drivers and owners will eventually get the message reckless operation or unsafe vehicles nor permitted.
    The minds of the Filipino people are brainwashed that this is an accident and acceptable. That is nonsense, there is no such thing as a vehicle accident. Vehicle accidents can be avoided with proper training and good maintenance. Although vehicle crashes do take place, take the time to look at statistics, most if not all could have been avoided.

  2. Again the pinoy mentality kicks in when a tragedy happens. Ban all busses from the skyway. I will tell you the problem & its so easy & its everyone who is involved with driving. Its the drivers. No one here knows how to drive properly. Full stop. No drivers here obey the laws that you do have. No police enforce the law that you do have. Bring in a driving test like we have in the uk, it makes people understand why they should do things in driving & whey should not do things in driving. Then make the police uphold the law. In the uk for any violation you get usually 3 points but it could be more for certain offences. Those points stay on your licence for a number of years & when you reach 12 points you get an automatic 12 months driving ban. Also as well as points you get a hefty fine. Do that here & within 12 months the standard of driving will be 1,000,000% better. All foreigners collectively say the filipino is the most stupid driver on the planet. They drive without lights at night & nothing is done, they drive with bald tyres & nothing is done. Now if you have an accident with a pedestrian the law needs to look at whose fault it was & not just blame the driver. In the philippines both driver & pedestrian do the most stupid things in the roads. If its the pedestrians fault then dont put the driver in jail but put the blame on the pederstrian. But as usual your politicians do not address the cause.

  3. Claro Apolinar on

    I hope and pray that the victims and their families are not made to suffer a long process of litigation before they get benefits, as victims and families of Sulpicio Lines sea deaths did.

  4. To all the stakeholders,
    Sir/Ma’m,
    More than ever, now is the time to make a drastic call for change on how public transport should be run, operated in Phil. Obviously, numerous bus operator (competition doesn’t work) where you see it fit.
    Sec. Abaya, sir; implement that DOST hybrid bus or switch to “tram like” bus system operated by government. Bus operator/driver will be regular employee with salary and not boundary system. Also, passenger bus should not be using the skyway.
    To the owner/bus operator. sana this is a wake up call please operate your business with heart and purpose. Service po ito hindi basta kumita. Will you have peace of mind Doc.

  5. Maria Taylor-Perry on

    While I am not familiar with this particular bus service, this sounds a lot like buses here in the US that are doing the same thing with driver training, substandard equipment and missed or non-existent inspections. What our National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Department of Transportation has done is shut those companies down permanently. The LTFRB may want to do the same thing after checking on all the bus companies that are in service to see if they are in compliance with current regulations. My condolences to all of the victims of this terrible crash and my fervent hope that justice will be done.