MANILA, Philippines – Family members of the victims of a bus accident in Tanay are searching for the truth behind the crash that killed at least 15 people, most of whom were students on a field trip.
On Tuesday, February 21, Quezon City 5th District Representative Alfred Vargas had organized a dialogue among the victims’ relatives, officials from the Bestlink College of the Philippines, and representatives of the Panda Coach Tourist and Transport Incorporated, the bus company involved in the accident.
The bus was taking around 50 Bestlink students to a camping trip in Tanay on February 20. The bus crashed into an electric post while traveling along Sitio Bayucan in Barangay Sampaloc, Tanay.
Vargas told Rappler that only 11 grieving relatives came to the dialogue held at the Novaliches District Center. Most of them were residents of Quezon City and Caloocan City.
“The initial impression that we got is gulong-gulo sila (they are very confused). They do not know who to run to, who to talk to, who can help them,” said Vargas.
“There are some na they are really very angry and feel nila napabayaan sila ng eskuwelahan. ‘Yung iba naman, tingin nila binalewala ‘yung bus,” he added. (There are some who are really very angry and who feel that the school had neglected them. Others think the bus was not taken care of.)
Vargas said he volunteered for his office to be the main “crisis management point” as the families seek justice for the victims.
The lawmaker said he has already spoken to Caloocan City Mayor Oscar Malapitan and Caloocan City 1st District Representative Dale Malapitan to get assistance for the families.
“We will help in all the ways that we can. I have contacted DSWD (Department for Social Welfare and Development) for their psychological support. I have written to DOH (Department of Health) and the PNP (Philippine National Police),” said Vargas, who is hoping to come up with an independent report on the accident within the week.
“I told the families that we will provide them with legal assistance. ‘Di sila gagastos kahit isang kusing. And marami ng lawyers ang tumawag sa akin na gusto mag-work pro bono (They will not spend a cent. And a lot of lawyers have called me and told me they want to work pro bono),” he added.
Vargas shared that he also gave monetary assistance to the relatives during the dialogue, but refused to disclose the amount.
Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV and Makati City 2nd District Representative Luis Campos have both called for an investigation into the Tanay bus accident.
The Commission on Higher Education en banc also announced it would impose a moratorium on all field trips and educational tours in all higher education institutions following the accident.
The Philippine Star also reported that the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board is set to issue a 30-day preventive suspension order against Panda Coach. – Rappler.com