Arroyo orders full probe of Cebu bus tragedy

Outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered Tuesday a full investigation into the tourist bus tragedy that killed at least 21 people in Cebu province last weekend.

A report on radio dzBB’s Cebu affiliate said Mrs. Arroyo, who was in the province, ordered Central Visayas police head Chief Superintendent Lani-o Nerez to lead the probe.

Mrs. Arroyo’s order came even as the Department of Transportation and Communications has suspended the franchise of the bus operator for the fatal accident last Sunday.

Radio dzBB reported Tuesday the DOTC will also let the Foreign Affairs Department coordinate with the Iranian Embassy in informing the victims’ kin.

At least 21 people, most of them Iranians, were killed when a Cattleya tourist bus (GWZ-666) fell from the Transcentral Highway in Balamban town last Sunday.

More than 20 other passengers were injured.

Negligence, not accident

Land Transportation Office (LTO) head Alberto Suansing on Monday said he did not consider the tragedy an accident.

Suansing, who went to Cebu to inspect the site of the incident, said the crash could have been avoided had the driver been more careful.

“This is not qualified to be called an accident, negligence yan. Maganda ang kalsada, paved ang kalsada, so talagang nagkulang sa pag-iingat (This is not qualified to be considered an accident. This is more of negligence. The road conditions were okay and the road was paved, so this is one incident that could be avoided with caution),” he said.

Citing reports reaching him, he said witnesses saw smoke coming out of the bus before the crash, indicating its brake pads were burned.

The driver could have avoided the tragedy had he slowly stopped the bus, he added.

“We’re trying to avoid a situation where ang sasabihin ng mga foreigner is pabaya tayo sa ating tungkulin. Una ang masiguro ang mga sasakyang ginagamit natin roadworthy (We are trying to avoid a situation where foreigners criticize us for being negligent. We have to make sure our public utility vehicles are roadworthy),” he said.

On the other hand, preparations are ongoing to bring to Manila the remains of the 20 Iranian victims of the tragedy.

The dzBB report said the Iranian Embassy is now processing the necessary documents. (LBG/RSJ – see more on GMANews.TV and read more on Yahoo! Philippines News)

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