Ecija bus crash victims get P4.6M in assistance
BAYOMBONG, NUEVA VIZCAYA—Cash assistance totaling P4.6 million was given last weekend to families of passengers who were killed or hurt when their bus fell 40 meters into a ravine at Carranglan town in Nueva Ecija province on April 18.
The amount represented an initial release by the Passenger Accident Management and Insurance Agency, which administers personal accident insurance paid by travelers each time they take a bus.
On Saturday, President Duterte also gave an initial P10,000 each to the crash victims. The amount was matched by another P10,000 each from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
The amounts were given to the families after a Mass at Veterans Regional Hospital (VRH) here, where LTFRB Chair Martin Delgra extended Mr. Duterte’s message of sympathy.
The crash killed 34 people, including the bus driver and conductor, and injured 43 others, according to the Nueva Vizcaya provincial disaster risk reduction and management council.
The Mass at VRH chapel was the first chance for grieving families to gather after the accident, described as one of the worst in northern Luzon in the last five years.
After the Mass, retired Bayombong Bishop Ramon Villena blessed 29 survivors who were recuperating at VRH, four of whom remained at the intensive care unit.
The families of passengers who died were invited to share lunch with Delgra and receive the money from Mr. Duterte.
“We are also coordinating with the insurance company on the claims that the victims are entitled [receive], as well as the assistance that will be extended by the bus company,” Delgra said.
Dr. Napoleon Obaña, VRH deputy chief, said a number of victims who suffered fractures would have to be implanted with metal body parts, the cost of which would be shouldered by donors.
The LTFRB is looking at two violations that the Leomarick Trans may have committed: the bus was overloaded and it did not assign an alternate driver for the 14-hour trip from Ilagan City in Isabela province to Bangued town in Abra province.
Based on initial findings, the 45-seat bus carried 77 passengers, or 28 more than its maximum capacity.
The bus may have also been plying outside its approved route, Delgra said.
“The franchise [granted to Leomarick Trans] indicated that it should have been traveling to Abra by way of Maddela [town in Quirino province]. If it followed that route, then that accident may not have happened,” Delgra said.
He also said Mr. Duterte had directed the agencies to examine the condition of the road, which, he noted, could have been contributory to the crash.
Senior Insp. Robert de Guzman, acting Carranglan police director, said four of the 34 fatalities remained unidentified. —MELVIN GASCON AND ARMAND GALANG
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