Driver in Occidental Mindoro tour bus crash flees
Police on Monday filed charges against the driver of the tourist bus that crashed in Occidental Mindoro province on Saturday that left two school officials dead and several students hurt.
Supt. Imelda Tolentino, spokesperson for the Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) police, said a case for multiple murder and multiple physical injury was filed in the provincial prosecutor’s office in San Jose town in Occidental Mindoro against the bus driver, Julius Beleno, a resident of San Agustin town in Isabela province.
Police, however, have yet to arrest Beleno, who fled after the accident in Magsaysay town.
The victims were students and teachers from the University of Rizal System (URS) in Rizal province on their way to Occidental Mindoro State College in San Jose for the Southern Tagalog Regional Association of State Universities and Colleges (Strasuc) Olympics.
The school hired the bus operated by Charm Travel and Tour Bus Co.
Police said the victims were in Magsaysay, a town away from the venue, when Beleno reportedly lost control of the bus when its brake system failed, causing the vehicle to fall into a 10-foot deep canal along the road.
Elmer Decillo, URS sports director, and Jonathan Penada, URS Binangonan campus director, died in the accident.
Twenty-six others were hurt but only three remained in hospitals on Monday. Reports said Mary Ann de Castro, also a member of the URS delegation, and bus conductor Jommel Tomas were taken to a hospital in Batangas province, while Maricel Maniaol remained at San Jose District Hospital in Occidental Mindoro.
URS, with 10 different campuses in Rizal, paid tribute to Decillo and Penada on Monday.
“The whole URS family is grieving,” said URS instructor Marlene Cebanico.
John Michael Siochi, URS Supreme Student Government president, said the remains of Penada were brought to the Binangonan campus where students and colleagues offered their prayers on Monday.
“(Penada) was the type of leader who always put the students’ welfare first,” Siochi said.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board earlier said it was likely to suspend the bus company, since its license was to operate only within Central Luzon region.
Dr. Tirso Ronquillo, Batangas State University president and Strasuc chair, said URS decided to withdraw from the weeklong sports event, following the tragedy. —MARICAR CINCO
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