A year after Florida bus crash, driver under court custody
BAGUIO CITY—The driver of a GV Florida bus that fell into a ravine in Bontoc, Mt. Province, killing 15 passengers a year ago, has been freed but continues to report to a local court as mandated by the judge who heard the case.
Among those killed in the crash were foreign tourists and musicians, including comedian Arvin “Tado” Jimenez.
The driver, Edgar Renon, was freed on bail last year by a municipal trial court in Bontoc, which was hearing the multiple homicide charges filed against him. He has been required to report once a month to the court, but police authorities do not know his whereabouts.
Virgilio Florida Jr., vice president of GV Florida Transport Inc. which is based in Nueva Vizcaya province, said he had lost contact with Renon.
“We have not heard from him since last year [after the firm posted Renon’s bail in February],” he said. “What I know is that a judgment has been rendered by the court against [Renon], and [it found] our company not [criminally] liable [for the tragedy].”
Senior Supt. Oliver Enmodias, Mt. Province police director, could not confirm Florida’s statement. He said he would ask the court next week on the status of Renon, as well as the case police filed against the company.
Florida said the company had lost track of the case because it was preoccupied with addressing the needs of the victims’ families. It has not been communicating with Renon’s former employer, Norberto Cue, before he started driving for GV Florida, he said.
Cue owns Mt. Province Cable Bus Tours Inc., which had sold 10 buses to G.V. Florida, including the vehicle that fell off the mountainside in Barangay (village) Talubin in Bontoc on Feb. 7 last year.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board had suspended the operations of 186 buses of GV Florida.
In June last year, the Court of Appeals ordered the lifting of the suspension but affirmed the agency’s decision to cancel GV Florida’s right to ply the Manila-Bontoc route.
Since the accident, no buses have ferried passengers from Manila directly to Bontoc, via Banaue town in Ifugao, which some tourists prefer, said Celina Claver, Cordillera director of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).
So far, the DOTC has received one application for this route, she said, adding that the agency had received reports that vans were taking commuters through this route without any license.
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