SANTA CRUZ, Marinduque—There was no joyful reunion, only grief, when the bodies of five people killed in a bus accident in Benguet last week were met by relatives at Balanacan port in this province late Sunday afternoon.
Thirty-one tourism students and two teachers of the Marinduque State College were on their way home on the night of Feb. 21 from an Ilocos-Baguio City educational field trip, when their bus collided with a truck on the highway in Tuba, Benguet.
Confirmed dead in the accident were students Diane Laurio, 18, Marivin Palatino, 31, and Princess Pastorfide, 19; and teachers Jenny Liza Lantoria, 29, and Mariel Mingi, 26.
Leopoldo Nana, a reliever-driver, and Carlo Pintor, a tour guide, both from Benguet province, were also among the dead.
Authorities reported 28 other students were injured.
Grieving relatives, friends, students and teachers of MSC waited at the port in Mogpog town to fetch the remains of the five victims. Upon arrival, the bodies were ferried by trucks and hearses to various funeral homes then taken to their respective homes before sundown.
Dr. Leodegario Jalos, vice president for academic affairs of MSC, texted the INQUIRER on Monday that one of the injured, Sushmita Principe, 19, who suffered scratches, returned to Marinduque on Saturday while 17 others and their parents were on their way back to Marinduque.
Four of the injured were sent to the Philippine Orthopedic Hospital on Sunday.
Only six students remained at hospitals in Baguio City, including two still in the intensive care unit of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center—Joana Pizarra, 19, who remained unconscious and fighting for her life; and Florilyn Zulueta, 19, who reportedly regained consciousness but still needed to stay in ICU.
Social networking sites, especially the different Marinduque Facebook groups’ pages and individual accounts, were flooded with prayers and sympathies from all over the country and abroad.
Some clamored that justice be given to the victims and that those responsible, including the tour operator, bus company and school administrators, be held accountable and be charged for criminal and/or civil liabilities.
Jalos earlier said they were ready to face any inquiries or charges against them as the school had followed all requirements for the field trip, including securing an approval from the Commission on Higher Education.