Antique gov to DPWH: Abandon ‘killer curve’
ILOILO CITY — Antique Gov. Rhodora Cadiao has urged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to condemn and close an accident-prone road stretch at Barangay Igbucagay in Hamtic town that has been tagged by locals as a “killer curve” due to the series of fatal crashes in the area, the latest of which killed at least 18 people on Tuesday.
Cadiao said it was about time the DPWH put an end to “Band-Aid solutions” to a long-existing problem and build a new road before more people die.
She pointed out that more than 50 people died in separate road accidents on the same spot in Igbucagay over the past years.
A Ceres bus loaded with 28 people on Tuesday overshot the curve and plunged into an 18-meter (60 feet) cliff, killing 18 people, including the driver, conductor, and two inspectors.
Rescue teams reported an initial 17 fatalities. The 18th fatality was identified as Arianne Raiven Mejia who died at a hospital in Iloilo at 10 p.m. on Wednesday.
Mejia, 21, and a resident of Barangay San Pedro in San Jose de Buenavista town, Antique, was initially taken to Angel Salazar Memorial General Hospital in the province but was later transferred to Iloilo due to her critical condition.
Her mother Venus shared the news of her passing on Facebook.
“She battled her way for more than 24 hours but she didn’t make it. I lost her. We lost her but she’s at peace now. No more pain. Fly, my baby girl. I will always miss you. And you’re always in our hearts. I love you,” she shared on Thursday.
Meeting with Bonoan
Cadiao is set to meet with Public Works Secretary Manuel Bonoan on Dec. 11 to express her concern over safety in that particular stretch of the highway, saying she had not seen any “concrete solution” following her requests sent to the DPWH’s regional and district offices.
“Every time there is an accident at the ‘killer curve,’ they always have a simple solution to it. [But] simple and experimental solutions are not acceptable. They have to condemn and abandon that road and let the spirits of the dead rest and make an alternate road even if they have to cut through a mountain,” Cadiao said in an interview on Thursday.
She reminded the DPWH that funds from the road users’ tax could be used in building another road in Igbucagay.
“Once and for all, I will tell Secretary Bonoan to condemn that road to put the spirits there to rest,” she said.
Different types of vehicles—from buses and delivery trucks to cars—remain at the bottom of the ravine to this day after they figured in accidents in the area, Cadiao said.
“The solution of the DPWH after the previous accidents was to put signs and barriers that did not stop more accidents from happening,” she said.
Philippine flags in Antique were flown at half staff to pay respects to those who died in the road accident in Hamtic.
Among the fatalities were seamen, students, teachers working in mountain schools, and pastors, Cadiao said.
The Antique provincial government said it would take care of all the hospital expenses of the crash victims and would release an initial P20,000 financial assistance to each of the fatalities’ families.
It would also provide funeral assistance to the families of those who died in the accident.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development has committed to give another P10,000 to each of the families of the deceased.
Vallacar Transit Inc. (VTI), the bus owner, said it was also providing assistance to the families of the 18 fatalities and 11 injured passengers.
The injured passengers are confined at Iloilo Western Hospital, Iloilo Mission Hospital, and Angel Salazar Medical Hospital in San Jose, Antique. They are now in stable condition, VTI said in a statement.
VTI has put up help desks at the lobbies of the three hospitals and at the Hamtic police station for queries and assistance. Ceres bus employees have been tasked to assist in the processing of medical assistance and financial support for the families of the victims, VTI said.
“Ceres employees are reaching out to the families of the deceased who have not yet availed of the said assistance,” it added.
The VTI management is also mourning the loss of its four employees: bus driver Ricky Serios, conductor Wilmar Marcelino, and line inspectors Jevy Bordago and Jose Glenn Fandagani.
Fandagani reportedly saved the life of a teacher while Bordago protected a pregnant passenger.
“They (Fandagani and Bordago) chose to save the lives of the passengers even at the expense of their own,” VTI said.
The company accepted the 30-day suspension imposed by the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board on its 12 units included in the franchise of the bus involved in the accident.
“With the suspension of the 12 units, VTI management is assuring the riding public in the Province of Antique that sufficient numbers of units are available to transport them safely and comfortably to their respective destinations,” VTI said.
It appealed to the public to avoid posting, sharing, and/or entertaining what it described as “fake” videos and pictures of the accident.
“These fake videos and pictures are adding an emotional toll to the families who are grieving the … loss of their loved ones,” it said.