Valisno driver took drugs before crash
The Valisno Express bus driver who crashed his vehicle into a boundary marker in Quezon City Wednesday morning, killing four people and leaving 18 others wounded, has tested positive for drugs.
A check with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) also showed that the bus involved in the accident was not authorized to operate as its registration expired in February.
Senior Insp. Marlon Meman, head of the traffic sector in charge of the area on Quirino Highway, Barangay Greater Lagro, where the accident occurred, said on Thursday that George Pacis had tested positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride or “shabu.”
As a result, the 35-year-old bus driver will face additional charges of violating the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act on top of reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property with multiple homicide and multiple injuries, and abandonment of victims.
A witness earlier said that Pacis, who had already been speeding before the accident, drove even faster after a passenger made a joke about Valisno Express buses being slower compared to those of another bus firm.
At 7:20 a.m. Wednesday, the non-air-conditioned bus headed for Bulacan province after coming from SM Fairview smashed into a concrete arch marking the boundary between Quezon City and Caloocan City.
Pacis apparently lost control of the vehicle, saying he attempted to brake but the right side of the bus rammed into the marker. He fled immediately after the accident only to be arrested several hours later.
When interviewed by the police, Pacis admitted that he took illegal drugs occasionally and the last time he got high was on Sunday. When interviewed by reporters, he apologized to the victims and their families although he spoke in a flippant and casual manner.
Sought for comment, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) board member Ariel Inton said that Valisno Express would have to prove that it supervises its drivers, tests them for drugs and requires them to undergo a psychological exam before hiring them.
The company’s entire fleet of 62 buses was immediately suspended for 30 days by the LTFRB following the crash. A hearing to determine whether or not its franchise should be revoked has been set on Aug. 18.
Meanwhile, a commuters’ group on Thursday urged that all bus drivers be required to undergo psychological and behavioral training.
In a phone interview, National Center for Commuter Safety and Protection (NCCSP) president Elvira Medina said she considered Wednesday’s crash a product of the driver’s “road rage” after he was reportedly offended by a joke made by a passenger.
“Drivers right now are tested only on their skills. All drivers on the road have driving experience, but [what] about [the] value of life? They don’t understand that their vehicles are vessels of life,” she added.
Since 2011, the NCCSP has been conducting free seminars for bus firms on “road rage management” and even emergency first aid training. Medina, however, said that most bus companies in Metro Manila had refused their offer to conduct a seminar for their drivers.
“The people who test drivers and [certify] vehicles which then get involved in accidents… should also be held liable. The authority to sign papers should come with [a] responsibility,” Medina stated.
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