EXPLAINER: Road accidents in Cebu: speed driving is just one of many problems. LTO's Caindec scorns mix of buses, light vehicles on small streets.

Pachico A. Seares
·4 min read

AT A GLANCE. [1] Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella met Tuesday, November 3, with representatives of Vallacar Transit Inc. and the drivers and operators coop and Traffic Patrol Group. Vallacar ordered drivers of its 237 buses not to drive beyond 40 kilometers per hour. The mayor had warned them to slow down, required by an un-repealed executive order when the city was under ECQ, or be barred entry to the city.

[2] In the wake of the Ceres bus company's serial violations -- topped by the October 25 ambulance-bus collision in Cebu City, injuring nine persons, and the death of a cyclist in Mandaue City on October 29 and another cyclist in Pitogo, Consolacion on October 30, all struck by Ceres buses -- LTFRB-7 gave drug tests and refresher courses to drivers of buses that use the Cebu north bus terminal.

[3] Wednesday, November 4, Representative Edgar Sarmiento, House committee on transportation chairman, heard LTO-7 Regional Director Victor Caindec testify in a "motu propio" inquiry into the recent road accidents in Cebu, where Caindec gave his agency's insight on the causes.

[3] The disclosure that Ceres buses were also involved in 10 road accidents in Mandaue City since last August and 22 cases in Cebu City since last September must have prompted public officials to act but not strongly and comprehensively enough to impose more than the routine suspension and the warning on speed limit.

Other road accidents that involved Ceres vehicles include the van-bus collision in Compostela town last March 13, killing four persons, and the fall of a bus off an elevated highway in Tabogon town on December 19, injuring at least 20 passengers.

. Drivers slowing down to 40 kph within the city's boundaries and 20 kph in residential areas -- a promise that Mayor Labella extracted from Vallacar -- would help. So would LTFRB-7's drug test and refresher courses for drivers, along with the automatic suspension of the "offending" buses.

But one problem that stands out, which the speed limit may not solve, is the system adopted by Vallacar that offers extra pay to those who exceed the day's quota of passengers within 16 hours. The incentive is likely to prompt drivers to dodge the slowdown rule and pick up passengers at illegal points to earn the extra pay. It is not known if the bus firm would scrap the incentive and how the drivers would react to the loss of extra income.

The other causes of the rash of accidents were cited by LTO chief Caindec to the House inquiry, which he had earlier also listed in his Facebook account. They include the mix of big and small vehicles on city streets -- buses, vans and trailers with bicycles, motorcycles, even e-scooters -- as well as the use of narrow roads by large vehicles. Caindec has blamed local government officials for ignoring regulations that three national agencies have adopted to lessen traffic and accidents.

DUTY OF LGUs. Caindec must refer to, among others, Joint Memorandum Circular 2018-001 of Department of Transportation, DPWH and DILG, which enjoins local governments to designate transport routes, enforce required speed limits and record road accidents.

Except for that EO on speed limit on buses during enhanced quarantine in the city, it is not known if the City Council has imposed speed limits and whether they are being enforced.

Not also known too is whether the Road Speed Limiter Act of 2016 (under Republic Act 10916) applies also to Cebu and other urban centers and not just to Metro Manila.

Interestingly, that was not mentioned in news stories about Mayor Labella's recent meeting with Vallacar and drivers-operators coop representatives. The speed limiter is a system or device to curb over-speeding, required under RA 10916 to public utility vehicles such as buses, closed vans, trailers, cargo vehicles, shuttle buses and the like. Enforcing the city's speed limit for buses will be easier with the requirement of speed limiter in each vehicle.

ROLE OF LTO, LTFRB. Caindec's testimony before the House committee included his remark that in effect washed his agency's hands off the problem of road accidents.

Caindec said the job of minimizing road mishaps and regulating public utility vehicles belongs to LTFRB. LTO, Caindec said, comes in only when requested for expert advice on transportation laws in a police investigation of a vehicular accident.