Palace orders crackdown on reckless drivers


Posted at May 14 2011 10:14 PM | Updated as of May 16 2011 12:09 AM

P100K reward offered for driver who killed UP professor-journalist

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang wants severe measures against reckless bus drivers following the bus accident on Commonwealth Avenue on Friday night that claimed the life of University of the Philippines (UP) professor and journalist Lourdes 'Chit' Estella-Simbulan.

Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said she expects the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to review its rules and penalties against erring bus drivers following the incident.

The accident happened despite a 60-kilometer-per-hour (kph) speed limit along the thoroughfare, which has been dubbed a "killer highway" because of many fatal accidents involving speeding vehicles.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino has offered a P100,000 reward for any information that can lead to the arrest of the bus driver involved in the accident.

Friends, family, colleagues and students flocked to the wake of  Lourdes Simbulan, better known in the media industry as Chit Estella.

She was 54.

Simbulan died after the taxi she was riding was rammed by a bus from the rear near the UP Ayala Technohub along Commonwealth Avenue at around 6 p.m.

One bus was identified as a Universal Guiding Star bus with plate number UVC 343, but the taxi driver said there was a second bus involved.

The two buses were allegedly racing when the accident happened. The drivers of both buses are still at-large.

"Sana naman doon sa driver ng bus sumuko ka na," said Delfin Llagas, the operator of the taxi involved in the crash.

The taxi driver, Vito Jagunos, said the taxi was suddenly bumped at the back by one of the buses. "Bigla na lang sinalpok ng bus yung likod namin e," he said. "Nakita ko yung pasahero ko sumusuka na ng dugo."

Condolences and tributes

Messages of condolences and tributes from journalists and students have flooded the web on news of Simbulan's death.

Prof. Danilo Arao of the UP College of Mass Communication (UP CMC) expressed sadness over the untimely death of his colleague.

"Kamakailan lang nabigyan siya ng tenure. Ibig sabihin naging permanente na siya sa college dahil nakuha na niya ang kanyang masters degree at nafulfill na niya ang mga requirements para maging permanent faculty. Nakakalungkot lang na hindi na mapapakinabangan ng up ang kahusayan bilang guro sapagkat biglaan itong naging pagpanaw niya," Arao said.

"She will definitely be missed," said UP student Nikki Palacios.

Simbulan taught journalism at UP and served as co-founder and a trustee of VERA Files, a website featuring investigative and in-depth pieces by veteran journalists.

She was managing editor of Manila Times until 1999, and became editor-in-chief of "Pinoy Times," which bannered exposés and controversies about the Estrada administration.

A wake is being held for Simbulan at the Arlington Memorial Chapel. Her cremation is set for Tuesday.

Her media colleagues will hold a necrological service for her on Sunday, while the UP CMC will hold a memorial for her on Wednesday. -- reports from ANC; Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News