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Nation

Bus driver in Mt. Province mishap arraigned tomorrow

Raymund Catindig, Charlie Lagasca - The Philippine Star

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines â€“ The driver of the GV Florida Transport Inc. bus involved in a recent mishap which claimed the lives of at least 14 passengers in Bontoc, Mt. Province is scheduled for arraignment tomorrow.

Senior Superintendent Oliver Enmodias, Mt. Province police director, said Edgar Renon, driver of the bus that plunged into a ravine last Feb. 7, will be arraigned before the Bontoc regional trial court on charges of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and serious physical injuries.

At least 31 people on board the Sagada-bound passenger bus also sustained serious injuries, with at least five of them reportedly still confined in hospitals in Bontoc, Baguio City and Metro Manila. 

Renon has been detained since Feb. 14 or a week after he was discharged from the Bontoc General Hospital where he was confined for injuries he sustained in the accident. 

Reports said Renon, who earlier had expressed remorse for the mishap, was having a hard time raising the P80,000 bail for his temporary liberty.

“He has no money to post the required bail,” Enmodias said. 

The fatalities in the Bontoc mishap included comedian Arvin “Tado” Jimenez and Katrina Gozos, a graduating college student from Lipa City, Batangas. 

Jimenez’s widow Lei had her head shaved yesterday morning in front of the Florida Transport terminal in Sampaloc, Manila to protest what she alleged was the insufficient attention the bus firm was giving to the victims.

She also scored the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for its alleged negligence in ensuring that bus companies comply with road safety regulations to prevent road accidents.

The LTFRB is holding a hearing at the accident site in Bontoc on Feb. 28, which Renon is expected to attend.

LTFRB chairman Winston Ginez announced this during the board’s first hearing on the accident yesterday, during which he told GV Florida lawyer Alex Versoza to explain in writing his admission that the ill-fated bus actually belonged to Dagupan Bus Co. Inc. 

The bus was supposedly a private unit that was repainted by GV Florida and used the license plate belonging to a bus of another company, Mt. Province Cable Tours, whose franchises were earlier bought by GV Florida without the board’s approval. 

The discovery was made after a check of the chassis and engine number of the ill-fated bus revealed that these belonged to Dagupan Bus Co. 

The LTFRB yesterday handed over checks each worth P150,000 to the victims’ families.

This was a special arrangement since the bus was technically a “colorum” vehicle, or operating illegally, and thus could not be recognized by the bus firm’s insurance provider. The amount was raised by GV Florida and a number of insurance providers.

Jimenez’s widow was present during the hearing but was not able to claim the check. 

Ginez said Mrs. Jimenez asked that a representative claim the check for her, but the representative needed a special power of attorney to claim it and would just come back once the document is available.– With Reinir Padua

ALEX VERSOZA

BAGUIO CITY AND METRO MANILA

BONTOC

BONTOC GENERAL HOSPITAL

BUS

DAGUPAN BUS CO

FEB

MT. PROVINCE

RENON

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