GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Ten people died while four others were hurt in a three-vehicle smash-up in a highway in General Santos City on Thursday afternoon, August 4.
The accident brought to the attention of authorities the operation of thousands of unregistered public utility vehicles and unlicensed car rental businesses in General Santos and elsewhere in Soccsksargen.
The crash involved a cargo truck, a pickup truck, and a utility van that was bringing a group back to General Santos from a team-building activity in the Island Garden City of Samal in Davao del Norte.
The collision left a ghastly sight of mangled bodies, twisted metal, and the injured strewn all over a section of the highway in Purok 4, Barangay Batomelong.
The van passengers were employees of the General Santos City-based Tuna Exporters Multi-Purpose Cooperative (Tempco).
Police said they rented the van from a group that did not have documents for a car rental business.
The driver of the pickup truck, Elbert Hayag, said he was negotiating a curve towards the General City proper when the van ahead of him swerved in the opposite direction, and headed straight toward the oncoming truck.
Lieutenant Colonel Dominador Palgan Jr., chief of the General Santos Traffic Enforcement Unit (TEU); and Land Transportation Office-Soccsksargen director Macario Gonzaga said investigators were looking into the proliferation of vehicles being rented out or used as public utility vehicles without government permits.
Police Executive Master Sergeant Alberto Rosas of the Highway Patrol Group said more than 1,000 vans were operating as PUVs in Soccsksargen without papers.
Authorities said there was also a rising number of unregistered car rental businesses in the region.
The TEU said it has been recording more than one road crash in General Santos daily in recent days.
Police identified the fatalities as:
- Cesar Andaya, cargo truck driver
- Noel Podadera, van driver
- Lalaine Joy Labang
- Mylene Donaldo
- Carlo Advincula
- Regie Pag-ong
- Ryan Jay Niñez
- Salvacion Masugbod
- Alfredo Abatayo
- Rose Ann Macpal
The following were identified as injured:
- Shiela Bantaculo
- Regina Gadia
- Jerel Villaruz
- Jeraldine Villaruz