The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has cancelled the seven franchises for the entire 78-unit fleet of the Don Mariano Bus Transit, whose killer bus plunged from the Skyway in Parañaque City on December 16, 2013, killing 20 people and hurting several others.
“The franchise [of Don Mariano Bus Transit]for its 78 units of buses is hereby cancelled, revoked and confiscated back in favor of the state,” said LTFRB chairman Winston Ginez who read the board’s decision that will be released on January 16, the end of a 30-day suspension imposed on the bus firm for numerous violations.
Ginez added that the franchise includes the buses’ routes from Novaliches to Baclaran and to Pacita in San Pedro, Laguna. He assured the public that Don Mariano Transit will never operate again due to a moratorium in issuing new franchises even if the bus firm will change its name.
“Don Mariano Transit Corp. not only failed to be diligent in the selection of its drivers and undertake the necessary drastic action after a series of accidents and suspensions, but it was likewise remiss in providing and maintaining its services which are safe, proper and adequate for the benefit of the public at large,” Ginez said.
A source from the board told The Manila Times that the plates of all the buses that have been confiscated will be destroyed.
After all legal procedures have been exhausted, the bus units can be sold to other bus operators by the owners.
“They can be sold as the ownership was not closed. We will monitor the sale and buyers will be scrutinized. They have a responsibility as public transportation owners,” Ginez explained.
He stressed that the board has found out that the Don Mariano Bus firm has been cited for several violations ranging from its non-road worthiness to malfunctions.
“Three incidents have merited suspension but they continue to fail to resolve the cited violations,” Ginez said.
Jason Cantil, legal counsel of the bus firm, said they will file a motion for reconsideration because many workers will lose their jobs if the LTFRB decision is implemented.
Cantil added that the families of 18 passengers who died in the Skyway accident have chosen amicable settlement.
Records at the LTFRB listed Don Mariano Transit as the bus firm with the most violations. Aside from the Skyway accident, the company also committed several violations of the franchise, including the unauthorized transfer of chassis of buses to other vehicles without the permission of the LFTRB or the Land Transportation Office.
In May last year, passengers were robbed at gunpoint inside a Don Mariano Transit bus and one commuter was killed.
In July last year, one of its buses nearly flew over the railing of the Ortigas flyover on the southbound lane of EDSA.
The bus driver later claimed a motorcycle had appeared from nowhere, causing him to swerve. But bus passengers insisted the bus driver was reading text messages while driving.
In August last year, another Don Mariano Transit bus plying the Magallanes flyover was involved in an accident with a motorcycle, whose driver was killed.
The LTFRB had placed the Don Mariano Transit on top of the list of most dangerous bus operators based on damage to property.
With reports from Jaime R. Pilapil and Francis Earl A. Cueto