By Ronald O. Reyes
As 30-day suspension order has been issued by the Department of Transportation and Communications Office to all 78 units of Don Mariano bus after Monday’s accident in in Manila Skyway , Malacanang Palace said they will be referring the call for ”one-strike policy” on erring buses to Transportation secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya for review.
“Just to put everything in perspective. Today (Monday), si Secretary Abaya ordered LTFRB Chair Wilson Ginez to order the immediate suspension—automatic suspension of all the 78 units of Don Mariano. The owner of Don Mariano bus transit line was already informed and she’s going to comply with that directive.”
“ During the 30-day suspension, Secretary Abaya also ordered Chairman Ginez to conduct an investigation, first, if this driver will to undergo drug test; and also to review the performance of Don Mariano. It has been more than twice that there incidents involving Don Mariano,” said Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda on Monday’s press briefing in Malacanang.
Pressed further on “one-strike policy,” Lacierda the government is “bound by law” and that “there are process involved, which we have to follow.”
“That’s something we can refer to Secretary Abaya if one-strike policy is something practicable but, we’ll refer to Secretary Abaya. The other thing also, Secretary Abaya also ordered the Toll Regulatory Board Executive Director Edmund Reyes to look into the—to review the tapes and to talk to Skyway; to study on what kind of infrastructure improvements that we can do to avoid another incident of a bus falling from an elevated tollway.”
Lacierda added they will ask for a review on the speed limit in Skyway.
Pressed further for President Benigno Aquino III ordering a review of the number of buses plying EDSA, Lacierda answered, saying: “ I will ask Chair Ginez. That’s part… Continuing directive of LTFRB. You’ve got 12,000 units plying EDSA on a daily basis. We don’t need 12,000 units plying EDSA on a daily basis.”
“ We need only far less than that. So that’s why we have taken actions on colorum buses and also other actions taken… We will ask… But that’s a continuing directive from the President and that is something that LTFRB is supposed to be enforcing. And I think, they’re… And I believe they are enforcing it up to now,” Lacierda added.
On the incident, Lacierda said that “tragedies like this only serve to remind us that we—especially the common carriers that they have an obligation in transportation law.”
“They are supposed to have what we call ‘extraordinary diligence.’ So they have that responsibility. It’s more than the diligence of a good father of a family. And assumption of liability is immediately imposed upon them if an accident occurs.”
“ Having said that, it does not mean that we do not observe or enforce these traffic laws. In fact, we do have speed limits; we do have cameras in the Skyway where it occurred. So we have been implementing measures to ensure the traffic laws are enforced to the safety of the riding public and also the pedestrians,” said Lacierda.
Asked if the Palace wanted stricter sanctions for those caught violating speed limits or traffic rules, Lacierda said: “We have laws. We have, for instance, made it… We have laws for instance on the liability for a death in an accident is something within the ambit of the Revised Penal Code. The crime that is committed is homicide resulting—reckless imprudence resulting to homicide or injury or damage to property depends on what the final outcome of the accident will be.”
“That is being… I think somebody has been planning to increase the liability or the penalty for that. If I remember it right, Senator Ed Angara was—had a bill towards that effect. I don’t know if that has been acted on. But certainly, there were some bills designed to increase the liability of those people who commit accidents,” he added.
About 22 persons killed and several others injured when the Don Mariano bus plunged around 20 feet below from the Skyway.