BSU teachers left students to tour guides: probers

By Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 25 2014 05:12 PM | Updated as of Aug 26 2014 01:12 AM

MANILA - An independent fact-finding committee of Bulacan State University is investigating why there were no teachers present when seven BSU students drowned during a field trip in San Miguel, Bulacan Tuesday afternoon.

Probers said the teachers apparently left the group to the care of the tour guides when they went to Biak na Bato and crossed the Madlum River.

There were only three teachers who accompanied the entire group instead of the original five assigned to supervise the entire trip.

Group 1-A, where the seven fatalities belonged, reportedly had no teacher to supervise them in their bus.

In the investigation, the committee also found out that the students were not briefed about the possible dangers that they would encounter during the trip, particularly in the area of the Madlum River.

The parents were also not consulted on the itinerary despite the trip being organized by the Federation of Accelerating Students of Tourism or FAST.

The committee also questioned Adventours Xchange, the private travel and tours company in charge of the trip. Company officials absolved themselves of any accountability in the incident.

Authorities said water in the river was about knee-deep when the BSU students decided to cross it. However, raging waters from the mountain rushed down the river, sweeping the students away.

The bodies of students Mikhail Alcantara, Phil Rodney Alejo, Michelle Ann Rose Bonzo, and Helena Marcelo were recovered on Tuesday afternoon. The following day, the remains of Jenette Rivera and Madel Navarro were found.

The remains of the seventh victim, identified as Maiko Bartolome, were found Thursday morning.

Two other students who also crossed the river, identified as Daniel Cunanan and Thea Hernandez, survived.

Meanwhile, the families of the victims are determined to file charges against the Bulacan State University.

Reynaldo Bonzo, father of 16-year-old Michelle Ann Bonzo, said that they plan to contact the families of other victims to discuss their options.

"Hindi pwedeng sasabihin lang nila na 'pasensya na po' kasi buhay ang nawala sa amin e," Bonzo said.

"Masakit lang na masaya kayong lahat ng isang araw, tapos bigla na lang malungkot. Masakit, pero kailangang tanggapin."