Crash survivors can’t pay bills
BAYOMBONG, NUEVA VIZCAYA—The survivors of the April 18 bus crash are happy to be alive. But the pain they endure as they recover from their injuries has made them realize they will have to deal with huge hospital expenses.
More than 40 people lived through a 40-meter fall when the Ilocos region-bound Leomarick bus plunged into a ravine at Carranglan town in Nueva Ecija province. The crash killed 35 people, most of them at the crash site.
“[Coping with] the day-to-day expenses is already a struggle. We even had to borrow money just so we could travel to the hospital,” said Zenaida Framil, 60, of Barangay Baliling in Santa Fe town.
Her sons, Renaldy, 35, and Federico Jr., 19, are among the 31 survivors recuperating at Veterans Regional Hospital (VRH) here.
“The reason my sons were traveling to Manila was for them to work there as laborers. But now they’re here, they can’t work and here we are attending to them with practically nothing,” Framil said.
She said her children would have alighted in San Jose City in Nueva Ecija to catch another bus for Metro Manila.
Edgar Soriano, head of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) field office here, said they would compel the bus company to give assistance to the families of the fatalities and to pay for the hospitalization of the injured.
“We are also set to provide some cash assistance to the victims coming from insurance claims under the passenger liability clause,” he said.
The LTFRB is also looking to augment the assistance using the agency’s funds, Soriano said.
Under the terms of the insurance coverage, families of the deceased are expected to receive P100,000 each while the injured can get at least P20,000 each.
At funeral parlors in Bambang and Aritao towns, where some of the fatalities were taken, family members had to haggle with mortuary owners so their dead could be released.
“If they can hand over any amount as payment (for mortuary services), we just accept them. We cannot compel them to pay us if they say they have no money,” said Bonie Ramel, owner of Christian J Funeral parlor in Bambang.
Most of the passengers were traveling from this province to Nueva Ecija or Pangasinan province. The bus came from Ilagan City in Isabela province and its final destination would have been Bangued town in Abra province.
There were only 20 passengers when Jaime Tuguinay, 54, of Kiangan town in Ifugao province, boarded the bus at the Nueva Vizcaya-Ifugao junction in Bagabag town.
“Many boarded at various points in Solano, Bambang and Aritao. Soon it became full but the driver kept stopping to pick up more passengers. In Aritao, many were standing but still insisted to squeeze themselves in,” he said.
John Llamas, 25, a truck driver, lost his wife, Kriza Joy, 20, and his sister, Dyesebel, 21, in the crash.
Their eldest child, Luigie Jay, 2, was taken to Nueva Vizcaya Provincial Hospital in Bambang while their 8-month-old baby John Melvin was being treated at VRH.
They were traveling to see Llamas in Cabanatuan City before proceeding to Aurora province.
“Witnesses told me that my wife threw our baby out from a window before the bus fell,” Llamas said.
Elsie de la Rosa, 55, mother of one of the fatalities, Ace Vincent, 27, blamed the road condition for the tragedy, claiming the road network was “full of defects.”
Her son had just returned home on March 9 from Saudi Arabia where he worked for four years as cake decorator. He flew back to serve as best man in the wedding of his older brother, and spent Holy Week with his girlfriend in Diadi town in Nueva Vizcaya.
She said her son had proposed to his girlfriend and was planning to get married next year.
In Nueva Ecija, the accident may trigger new talks about road safety in the next provincial peace and order council meeting, said Senior Supt. Antonio Yarra, Nueva Ecija police director.
Initial investigation of the accident showed that before the fall, the bus rammed a damaged portion of the concrete barrier on a sharp curve of the Maharlika Highway-Cagayan Road.
The Department of Public Works and Highways in Central Luzon has recorded six accidents near the same spot since 2015.
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