The family of Rene and Fortune Ledesma, Philippine honorary consuls for Bulgaria and Monaco, is seeking the suspension of the operations of bus liner First North Luzon Transit (FNLT) after one of its units rammed the van they were riding in along North Luzon Expressway on Sunday.
Journalist and TV personality RJ Ledesma, one of the sons of Rene and Fortune, told The Manila Times that the bus hit the van, which already stopped near the Apalit, Pampanga portion of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX). The impact forced the van to the rear of another bus, and causing the engine to burst into flames.
His parents, brother, sister-in-law, niece, driver and nanny were traveling from a family vacation in Baguio City when the Hyundai Starex van they were riding was rammed by the bus along the length of NLEX Southbound near Apalit, Pampanga. RJ was not with is family that time.
The Ledesmas filed a complaint before the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to call for the immediate suspension of the operations of FNLT, a subsidiary of Victory Liner. They are also calling for the retraining of FLNT drivers, quality checks of bus units, and a review of the structure of their settlement claims and handling of incidents like this.
RJ lamented that no one from the FNLT contacted or assisted them immediately after the incident and were only able to contact the bus company through the efforts of his brother, who was still suffering from injuries in the hospital, who knew a friend from the Victory Liner.
But even then, RJ and his family had to wait the next day to talk with a representative of the bus company at the Apalit Municipal Police Station. This person, instead of offering immediate medical assistance, reportedly told them that FNLT will reimburse them of their expenses as soon as they provide receipts to hospital bills.
“This is not what we are after. It’s the principle behind it. Imagine the rest of the [Filipino] people who will be victimized [by FNLT]. They don’t have recourse but to settle for less,” RJ said.
The Apalit Police Office showed an entry for reckless imprudence resulting in physical injuries and damage to properties.
“If you saw the remains of the car, you would not believe that all the passengers in the vehicle survived the ordeal,” RJ said, adding that the impact was so strong that his mother, Fortune, was thrown violently from her seat. Her head hit the back of the driver’s seat, splitting her head “wide open” and leaving her unconscious with bruises all over her body.
The police report said all the passengers were initially brought to Calcutta Medical Hospital in San Fernando, Pampanga. Fortune had since been transported to the Makati Medical Center to undergo immediate surgery and is currently recovering.
RJ said they will pursue actions against the FNLT because they don’t want “the stress, the trauma and the agony” to happen to anyone else.
The Times contacted Rolly de Leon, FNLT owner, and Ding Halili, legal officer in charge of accidents, but both did not respond.
This is not the first time an FLNT bus figured in a road accident. Its mother company, the Victory Liner, had been suspended several times due to deadly accidents.