By: Samuel P. Medenilla and Aaron B. Recuenco
December 18, 2013
Manila, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is now conducting a separate investigation on Don Mariano Transit Corporation (DMTC), operator of the ill-fated bus that left 18 people dead, amid reports it violated labor standards.
Apart from this, police filed reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide, physical injuries, and damaged to property against Carmelo Calatcat, the driver of the ill-fated bus, and the registered owner of the bus. Calatcat, currently confined at the Parañaque Doctors Hospital, is among the 16 people reported injured as a result of the accident Monday morning.
“The case was filed at Parañaque City Prosecutors Office at the office of 2nd Assistant Prosecutor Napoleon Ramolete,” said Senior Superintendent Sheldon Jacaban, deputy director of the Highway Patrol Group (HPG).
Long Working Hours
Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, in an interview at the National Human Resource Summit in Manila yesterday, said that DOLE received reports that Calatcat has been working excessive hours.
Reports showed that drivers of DMTC usually worked for at least 19 hours.
Under DOLE’s labor standards, bus drivers are only allowed to work for a maximum of 12 hours.
“We have set this standard because we found out in our previous studies drivers have a higher risk for accidents if they have already worked for 17 or more hours,” Baldoz said.
Baldoz said that if it is proven that DMTC violated labor laws, it will be penalized with corresponding fines.
She, however, said it will be Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LFTRB), which will handle the possible technical liabilities of DMTC, which may have led to the accident.
DOLE’s regional office in National Capital Region (NCR) inspected DMTC’s bus station yesterday to ensure if it complied with labor standards.
Baldoz ordered the inspection after it was found out DMTC’s Labor Standards Compliance Certificate (LSCC), which is a mandatory requirement before LFTRB before renewing a bus companies’ franchise have already expired last July.
As this developed, the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) is investigating the possible lapses of the expressway operator that led to the road accident.
Julius Corpuz said the TRB is conducting its own investigation on the possible culpability of Skyway Operations and Management Corp. (SOMCO).
“The expressway design and law enforcement will be among the major factors in our investigation that we need to look into,” he said.
For the Skyway’s part, SOMCO President Manuel Bonoan maintained that the railings of the elevated Skyway is made from materials of international standards. He also said that Skyway has been deploying ample roving teams to monitor and enforce speed restrictions along the expressway.
According to SOMCO’s initial investigation, the ill-fated Don Mariano bus was way over the 60 kilometer-per-hour limit imposed during rainy occasions. SOMCO also noted the bus’ worn out tires, which could have contributed to the accidental skidding on the wet pavement.
SOMCO has pledged financial assistance to the families of the fatalities as well as injure passengers.
The LTFRB has already placed the entire fleet of Don Mariano Transit Corp. under a 30-day preventive suspension. All 78 bus units of the company were ordered submitted for roadworthiness inspection at the Land Transportation Office and the vehicle license plates confiscated. The drivers are also summoned for mandatory drug-testing and road safety seminars.
Franchise in Peril
Meanwhile, DMTC may lose the right to operate some of its authorized bus units after figuring in multiple violations of one of its seven franchises.
According to the LTFRB, Monday’s fatal was recorded as the third violation of the bus company’s particular franchise.
LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez said Don Mariano Transit Corp. is a holder of at least seven certificates of public convenience and necessity (CPCN), one of which covers the bus involved the in the accident. (With reports from Francis T. Wakefield and Kris Bayos)