MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation and Communication (DoTC) is set to investigate how the ill-fated passenger bus managed to get a franchise in Baguio City.
Eso Nice bus started its operation in La Union in 1996. It began servicing Baguio City-Sta. Catalina, Ilocos Sur until June 26, 2006.
Last October 6, 2009, the bus company was allowed to ply the route from Baguio City to San Fernando City, La Union.
However, a Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) memorandum circular 906-002 issued in January 10, 1996 allegedly disallows the approval of a franchise of any passenger bus that will operate in Baguio.
“I call on Sec. Ping de Jesus to investigate this,” said DOTC-CAR Dir. Federico Mandapat.
For his part, Nicasio Cayabyab, officer-in-charge of the Eso Nice bus line said they have complied with all the necessary documents.
“Basta lahat naman sinu-submit namin ng requirements pero di ko kasi alam Ito,” he said.
The LTFRB already implemented a 30-day suspension against the Eso Nice Bus.
The investigation was prompted by the accident that claimed the lives of 41 passengers in Benguet.
An Eso Nice Bus with body number 801 plunged into a 150-feet-deep cliff when its brakes allegedly failed past 9 a.m. on Wednesday along Barangay Amba-cuag, Banangan, Sablan, Benguet.
The DOTC and LTFRB are now planning to install a motor vehicle check up center to regularly monitor the road worthiness of passenger buses servicing Baguio.
Meanwhile, the Benguet Police is planning to subject the bus driver, Romeo Suban Jr., to a drug test.
Suban remains in critical condition at the Intensive Care Unit of the Baguio General Hospital.
“This is not to prove that he uses drugs. But we just want to know if he is in his right state of mind when he drove that day,” said Police Superintendent Gerardo Tumbaga.
The bus operator and its insurance company expressed readiness to provide assistance to families of the survivors and those who were killed in the accident.
“We are going to give P60,000 para sa mga namatayan at a maximum of P12,500 para sa mga injured. Processing of papers will last in 5 days... in the form of cheque ito,” explained Analyn Pre, Regional Coordinator of Unitrans Insurance Company.
The French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs extended its sympathy to the victims.
“France extends its condolences to the families and relatives of the victims and assures the Philippine authorities of its solidarity,” it stated. Andrea Diocares, ABS-CBN Baguio