17 dead as bus falls off cliff in Antique

Gilbert P. Bayoran - The Philippine Star
17 dead as bus falls off cliff in Antique
Handout photo from the Iloilo City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office shows rescuers conducting a retrieval operation after a bus carrying dozens of people lost its brakes and fell off a cliff in Antique on Tuesday afternoon.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Seventeen people died when a bus fell off a cliff Tuesday in Antique, prompting owner Vallacar Transit Inc. to suspend operations of 12 passenger buses.

In a statement, the Bacolod-based VTI also assured financial assistance to injured victims and families of slain passengers.

Ceres Liner bus No. 6289 was on its way to San Jose, Antique from Iloilo when it overshot and plunged into a 30-meter ravine at km 174 in Barangay Igbucagay, Hamtic, Antique.

The accident left 17 people dead while eight are in critical condition and four others are stable, according to the Antique Provincial Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Office.

Gov. Rhodora Cadiao disclosed that the majority of the Ceres Liner passenger bus are Antique residents.

Cadiao described Igbucagay, which VTI earlier said is an accident-prone area, as a “killer curve.”

She gave assurance that the victims’ hospital expenses would be taken care of by the provincial government and pledged an initial P20,000 to the families of passengers who passed away.

Cadiao noted that VTI’s decision to suspend operations of 12 passenger buses is nothing short of a knee-jerk reaction and recommended VTI should send brand new buses and take the coastal road instead of traversing the mountain roads.

VTI media relations officer Jade Marquez said that VTI has already reported the incident to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

The management assured the riding public that all appropriate steps are being taken to ensure that the company’s passenger buses are road-worthy and well-maintained.

At a press conference yesterday, Antique police chief Col. Rogelio Abran said they could not determine yet the cause of the accident.?


Bus driver Ricky Serios, 39, died along with bus conductor Wilmar Marcelino, inspector on duty Jaybe Burdago, the fare collector and line inspector.

Line inspector Jose Glenn Fandagani, 36, is being hailed as a hero for reportedly shielding Mica Marie Servano, 28, from the impact as the bus plunged into the ravine.

Servano, a teacher from Barangay Fatima, Tobias Fornier, Antique, recalled that Fandagani embraced her as the bus tumbled down the cliff.

Meanwhile, among the passengers were a Kenyan missionary, a one-year-old child and a faculty member and student from the same university.?

Four injured passengers are now recuperating at the Angel Salazar Memorial General Hospital in San Jose while seven others were referred to a hospital in Iloilo City for further treatment.

A 17-year-old girl from San Joaquin, Iloilo was injured as she was sideswiped while walking in the area.?

According to James Ibañez, he was driving his motorcycle ahead of the bus when he heard the bus incessantly honking.

The bus then encroached the opposite lane, ran over the guard rails and plunged into a ravine.

Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management officer Broderick Train said that the front portion of the bus was wrecked while a majority of the passengers were pulled from the vehicle’s rear side, one on top of the other.

Preventive suspension

The LTFRB has issued a 90-day preventive suspension to the entire Ceres bus fleet plying the route.

 “There are 15 of them, we have already issued a preventive suspension right away,” said LTFRB chair Teofilo Guadiz.

Guadiz also ordered an immediate investigation into the accident, especially if there was negligence on the part of the company.

The Land Transportation Office (LTO) is also calling for stricter implementation of roadworthiness inspections and the “no registration, no travel” policy.

LTO chief Vigor Mendoza instructed the regional office to determine possible assistance for victims.

Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public services, renewed her call for setting up a National Transportation Safety Board that will probe transportation-related incidents in air, land and sea, including railways and pipeline systems. – Jennifer Rendon, Romina Cabrera, Emmanuel Tupas, Cecille Suerte Felipe

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