MANILA – A government official on Monday said the drivers of G.V. Florida Transport Inc. should blame the bus company and not the government for their disenfranchisement as a result of an accident in Mt. Province last Friday.
Speaking to dzMM, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board chairman Winston Ginez said the LTFRB, given its limited manpower, has been doing all it can to ensure the safety of commuters.
"Sa pagkakataong ito huwag niyong sisihin ang gobyerno. Sisihin ninyo ang management. Bakit nila ginawa ang ganito, dahil ba sa kumikita sila? Sisihin niyo ang maintenance, ang mga mekaniko. Sisihin niyo na ang lahat huwag lang ang gobyerbo, dahil ang gobyerno ginagawa ang trabaho," Ginez said.
The LTFRB earlier suspended about 238 units of Florida Transport for 30 days after one of its units fell off a ravine in Bontoc, Mt. Province and killed 15 people, including comedian Arvin "Tado" Jimenez.
The LTFRB said 10 of the Florida units, including the one that figured in the Bontoc accident, were registered under Mt. Province Cable Tours owned by Norberto Que Sr.
It pointed out that no application for approval of sale and transfer has been filed by Que in favor of Florida Transport.
The ill-fated unit had a Florida body marking but its plate number was assigned to Mt. Province Cable Tours.
Moreover, the chassis and engine of the Florida bus were tampered and not registered with the Land Transportation Office (LTO).
Therefore, the bus was not authorized to operate as a for-hire vehicle, the LTFRB said.
"Ginamit nila ang lumang plaka ni Mr. Que na TXT 872 na dating nakakabit sa phased out unit. Kinuha at ikinabit sa isang unit na hindi pa dumaan sa inspection ng LTFRB at LTO at pinangalandakan nilang ito ay PUV," Ginez said.
"In layman's term, sa land transportation language, kambal-plaka iyan. Kaya napakatindi ng violation na ito. This is a blatant multiple violator."
Atty. Alexander Versoza, GV Florida Transport's legal counsel, earlier admitted that the bus is indeed owned by Norberto Que Sr. of Mt. Province Cable Tours.
He added, however, that GV Florida has already bought it and that the transfer of ownership is still being processed by the LTFRB.
The company is also in the process of acquiring more bus units from Dangwa Tranco and Dagupan Bus.
G.V. Florida Transport Inc. co-founder Virgilio Florida Jr. said the decision to acquire the franchises from other bus companies was due to the rising demand for trips to Sagada.
Both companies were given 72 hours from the receipt of the order to submit a show cause explaining why their Certificate for Public Conveyance (CPC) should not be suspended or cancelled or revoked.
A hearing on the case has been set on February 19. The inspection of the remaining Florida units continued today.
'Tado is pro-laborer, road safety advocate'
The camp of Jimenez said that while it supports the LTFRB action to suspend the bus company's fleet, it is not indifferent to the plight of the other bus drivers who temporary lost their jobs due to the accident.
Leni Velasco, spokesperson of DAKILA artists' group which Jimenez co-founded in 2005, said Jimenez's friends and family are still deliberating their official position on the matter.
"Isa po ito sa mga diskusyon sa grupo at sa pamilya, wala pa kaming opisyal na posisyon dahil pinag-aaralan namin ang mga best na hakbang. Si Tado kasi napaka pro-manggagawa noon kaya alam namin ang magiging epekto nito sa manggagawa ng bus comapny na walang kinalaman sa pangyayaring ito," Velasco told ABS-CBN's "Umagang Kay Ganda."
Velasco also called the accident an irony since Jimenez had advocated road safety.
"Napaka-ironic na sa sarili niya pang kampanya niya siya ang nabiktima. Nakakalungkot na paarng ang magiging behikulo pa para mas maging aware ang publiko ay itong pagkamatay ni Tado," Velasco said.