MANILA (UPDATE) – Lei Jimenez, the widow of activist-comedian Arvin "Tado" Jimenez, refused to accept insurance money from a bus firm following the fatal bus crash in Mt. Province that killed her husband and 14 others.
Lei refused to accept the check for P150,000 from G.V. Florida Transport during a hearing at the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
Lei did not stand up from her seat to accept the check and opted instead to be represented by her friend, Kate Lim.
Lim then told LTFRB officials that Lei prefers to accept the check in the office of LTFRB chairman Winston Ginez, away from the media.
However, after the LTFRB hearing, Lei left the place immediately, and her friends who accompanied her told ABS-CBN News that the widow does not want to accept the insurance money anymore.
LTFRB chairman Winston Ginez earlier said the bus firm and insurance consortium have agreed to put up the P150,000 for each of the families of the 15 fatalities.
Ginez said P100,000 will come directly from G.V. Florida Transport Inc., while the remaining P50,000 will come from the insurance consortium, with UCPB General Insurance Co. Inc. as the lead insurance company.
Ginez said the P150,000 "is over and above any damage that the victims may still file against G.V. Florida Transport Inc."
Benjamin Sicam, the father of bus crash fatality Andrew David Sicam, accepted the insurance money.
Andrew David's wife remains in the hospital due to the accident, while their son Agong was already discharged from the hospital.
"This will defray other expenses although a little late but still we are grateful. Wala namang kondisyon. Kung kayo mamatayan ano ang gagawin ninyo?" the older Sicam said after accepting the check.
Widow shaves head
Before proceeding to the LTFRB for the hearing, Lei shaved her head in front of the terminal of G.V. Florida Transport Inc. as a form of protest over the death of her husband.
"If Tado were alive then he would have done the same to make his statement loud and clear. Tado has been an activist since our student days in PUP and he always made his political statement in a creative fashion," Lei was quoted by artist group Dakila as saying.
"This unfortunate loss of so many lives was caused by the irresponsibility of the GV Florida Bus Lines and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). They should be made accountable and justice should be served to the victims and their families."
While Lei was having her head shaved, her friends and supporters were chanting "Hustisya, hustisya sa biktima ng Florida."
In the statement, Lei also criticized the LTFRB for its alleged laxity in enforcing road safety.
"The whole system must be reformed. If this 'kabit' and 'kolorum' system continues and blatant multiple violations are tolerated, more lives will be put in danger. It is such an irony that Tado was killed by the system he has painstakingly tried to change," she said.
Feb 28 hearing
The LTFRB has set another hearing on the case on February 28.
Lawyers of Florida, as well as representatives from the Department of Public Works and Highways were ordered to attend. Also summoned were representatives of the Dagupan Bus Company, which was earlier found to be the real owner of the ill-fated bus.
Dagupan Bus Co. lawyers were given five days to present documents related to the sale of the unit involved in the accident, while Florida was given 12 days to present all the documents and submit their position and comment on the case.
Ginez said the LTFRB will also summon footage of media interviews of the driver of the ill-fated bus, witnesses and other victims of the accident, as these will be used as evidence in the case.
All of Florida's buses are currently under a 30-day preventive suspension. The driver of the ill-fated bus, Edgar Renon, is now detained at the Mt. Province District Jail. He was charged with reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and serious physical injuries.– with reports from Henry Atuelan, dzMM; and Jorge Cariño, ABS-CBN News