Tearful homecoming for 5 killed in collision

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SANTA CRUZ, Marinduque—Grieving families and friends on Sunday met the bodies of three students and two teachers who were among the seven fatalities in a bus-truck collision along Marcos Highway in Tuba town in Benguet last week.

The bodies of Diane Laurio, 18, Marivin Palatino, 31, and Princess Pastorfide, 19, all students of Marinduque State College (MSC); and their teachers, Jenny Liza Lantoria, 29, and Mariel Mingi, 26, arrived at Balanacan Port in Mogpog town late afternoon and were brought by trucks and hearses to funeral homes and, later, to their houses.

They were among 31 tourism students and teachers of MSC who were on their way home from a four-day educational field trip in Ilocos Sur and Baguio City on the night of Feb. 21 when their Alfa Bus unit, hired by

St. Baraquel Tours, collided with the food container truck.

Also killed were Leopoldo Nana, a reliever-driver, and Carlo Pintor, a tour guide, both from Benguet. Twenty-eight other students were injured.

Six students, two of them in critical condition, remained at Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center. Joana Pizarra, 19, has remained unconscious and fighting for her life while Florilyn Zulueta, 19, still needed to stay in the intensive care unit.

Sushmita Principe, 19, who suffered scratches, returned to Marinduque on Saturday while 17 others and their parents were traveling back to Marinduque, said Dr. Leodegario Jalos, vice president for academic affairs of MSC in a text message to the Inquirer Monday.

Four were brought to Philippine Orthopedic Hospital in Quezon City on Sunday.

Baguio police, citing the account of truck driver Joel Bengua, said the ill-fated bus could have been speeding down the highway on its way to Manila when it struck the truck on an uphill climb to the city.

Facebook groups’ pages and individual accounts in Marinduque were flooded with prayers, sympathies and calls for justice for the victims. Some asked that those responsible, including the tour operator, bus company and school administrators, be charged criminally.

Jalos earlier said MSC officials were ready to face any inquiries or charges against them. He said the school followed all requirements for the field trip, including securing an approval from the Commission on Higher Education. With a report from Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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