Eleven Ceres buses plying the Cebu City – Santander via Oslob and Moalboal route have been ordered off the road after one of the company’s buses figured in an accident that claimed one life and injured 10 in Argao town last Sunday.
Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Winston Gines ordered the agency’s office in Central Visayas to immediately issue a preventive suspension against Vallacar Transit, operator of the Ceres buses.
Gines said the preventive suspension covered buses under LTFRB franchise case number 09-3541.
LTFRB-7 Regional Director Ahmed Cuizon told Cebu Daily News that he had verbally advised yesterday Vallacar Transit to ground the eleven buses.
He said he will issue today the written 30-day preventive suspension and a show cause order why the company should not be penalized for the accident which investigators said was because of over speeding.
Once suspended, the bus units will undergo road worthiness inspection, the drivers will be required to undergo drug testing and road safety seminars by the Land Transportation Office.
Maria Teresa Ceballos, a 45-year-old midwife from Moalboal town died in the accident after she was thrown off the bus when it skidded and hit a full- grown gmelina tree in barangay Talaga, Argao town.
Ten other persons, including bus driver Ernesto Serna were injured. Four of those injured were confined in the Isidro Kintanar Memorial Hospital in Argao.
Serna is now detained by the Argao police, pending the filing of charges of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and multiple injuries.
Cuizon said that if found liable, the Ceres buses may be penalized. Maximum penalty involves cancellation of franchise, depending on the gravity of the violation to the LTFRB franchise.
He added that the suspension will not affect passengers as there are many buses serving the Cebu City to Santander via Oslob and Moalboal route.
“Even Ceres has other buses in that route under difference franchise cases,” Cuizon told CDN.
The Ceres bus with plate number CEH 994 and body number 8304 skidded off the highway after overtaking a Sunrays bus.
Argao police investigator PO3 Von Tecson said witnesses told them the Ceres and Sunrays buses were racing towards the Argao bus terminal.
Cuizon said he will also summon the management of Sunrays to appear in the investigation to shed light on their role in the accident and determine if they too are liable.
Vallacar Transit is shouldering the hospital bills of the injured and the funeral expenses of the fatality. Vallacar Transit is also facilitating the release of at least 50 percent of the accidental death benefit insurance to the beneficiary of the victim. /BenCyrus G. Ellorin