Owners of ill-fated bus in Mindoro crash say to prioritize victims over franchise

Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 24 2018 12:41 PM | Updated as of Mar 24 2018 12:54 PM

MANILA - The owners of the Dimple Star bus line that figured in a deadly accident earlier this week have said they would "cooperate with any investigation" and extend assistance to victims before tackling the suspension of the firm's franchise.

On Tuesday, 19 people died while 21 others were injured after a Dimple Star bus fell into a ravine in Occidental Mindoro.

“Anumang imbestigasyon, makipag cooperate kami, ipakita namin sincere kami na tumulong sa mga nabiktima, sa namatayan. Hindi namin sila pababayaan," said Nilda Napat, one of the owners of the bus line.

(We will cooperate with any investigation to show that we are sincere in helping the victims and their families. We will not neglect them.)

“Sa prangkisa hindi muna ako tututok. Ang unahin ko tutukan 'yung aking naaksidente na matulungan ko sila sa kanilang pangangailangan," Hilbert Napat, Nilda's husband and co-owner, said.

(I will not focus on the franchise for now. I am prioritizing the victims and how we can help them.)

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has suspended for 30 days operations of 118 buses of Dimple Star, a document showed. 

This followed the initial suspension of 10 Dimple Star buses plying the San Jose, Occidental Mindoro-Manila route, the same route as the ill-fated bus.

The new suspension order stems from supposed violations found when the agency inspected the bus terminal, such as the lack of shade and seating for passengers and lack of separate comfort rooms for males and females. 

The LTFRB also found that the terminal did not have a priority lane, communication facility, and appropriate signages for its clients.

Regulators ordered Dimple Star to have its buses checked for road-worthiness and for its drivers and conductors to undergo drug testing and a driving seminar.

The Napat couple surrendered to authorities on Friday after President Rodrigo Duterte visited the crash site, condoled with the victims, and ordered the bus owners' arrest.

Duterte also issued a directive to stop all Dimple Star buses from serving passengers bound for Occidental Mindoro and Iloilo City via the Roxas Pier in Mindoro Oriental.

On Friday, 44 Dimple Star buses were temporarily held by the Occidental Mindoro and Mindoro Oriental Police Provincial Offices. 

The owners said they did not wish for the accident to happen and attributed the crash to the vehicle's usual wear and tear. 

“Tumatawid po kasi sa dagat 'yan eh. Kahit anong bago, 3 months may kalawang na po 'yan,” Hilbert said. 

(The bus is ferried across the sea. No matter how new, it will have rust within 3 months.)

"Hindi naman namin kagustuhan kaya nalulungkot din kami sa nangyari... Pinaghirapan din ho namin negosyo namin, hanapbuhay namin kaya masakit man ang nangyayaring ganito, nakikiramay talaga kami. Taos puso po kaming nakikiramay sa mga nasaktan. Nandito lang po kami, open po kaming tumulong," Nilda added. 

(We did not intend for it to happen. We also feel bad about what happened. We worked hard for our business so it's also difficult for us that something like this happened. We sincerely condole with those who were hurt in the incident. We are just here, we're open to help.)

The Napat couple said they are shouldering all hospital bills of those injured and have reached out to affected families should they need more help.