BEFORE, when a unit of a bus company is involved in a vehicular accident, especially if there are fatalities, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) will immediately issue a suspension order against the entire fleet with the same franchise number for 30 days. They called it a preventive suspension order. But now, it seems that the agency is adopting a “kid-glove” treatment despite the multiple road incidents involving a big bus company like the Ceres Liner.
Just recently, some units of the Ceres Liner have been involved in road accidents in which initial traffic investigation pointed to the liability of the bus drivers. One of the company’s units figured in a major road mishap against an ambulance of a private hospital on an emergency mission.
Several passengers of the bus, including the two drivers, suffered injuries. The bus driver was later arrested as traffic investigators claimed it was his fault for not giving way to the ambulance which was on emergency response. It is a standard operating procedure that ordinary vehicles give way or give priority to emergency vehicles such as ambulances, firetrucks and police patrol cars responding to an emergency situation.
Over the weekend, another Ceres unit was involved in another road accident where a security guard who was riding his bicycle was sideswiped and run over by the bus in Mandaue City. A similar incident also happened in the highway of Consolacion where a biker also died after he was hit by another Ceres unit.
These series of incidents have alarmed the traffic authorities and even local officials in the cities where this bus company was allowed to operate. The Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO) is planning to include Ceres drivers in its seminars and enroll them in its driver’s academy for refresher training. Also, the Mandaue City Government is planning to hold a dialog with the management and drivers of the bus company as Mandaue City Hall chief of staff Jamaal James Calipayan himself experienced a near fatal incident with a Ceres bus not long ago. There is also a proposal to subject the bus company drivers to drug tests and those who will fail will be removed from work.
But is the LTFRB adopting a “kid-glove” treatment of the bus company in connection with its involvement in a series of road accidents? Before, the LTFRB will automatically suspend the certificate of public convenience of the entire bus company if one of its units is involved in a road mishap, especially if there are deaths. Buses involved in accidents are supposed to be immediately suspended for 30 days. This includes bus units belonging to the same franchise number as the one that met an accident. It is unfair that only small operators are subjected to such rule. Is the bus company involved in recent accidents here “untouchable?”