‘Tado’ crash bus company GV Florida gets plates back this week

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The GV Florida Transport bus fell off a ravine on the morning of Feb. 7, 2014, landing at a small farm in Barangay (village)Talubin, Bontoc town in Mt. Province. RICHARD BALONGLONG/Inquirer Northern Luzon

The epidemic of crashes involving buses seems to have had little long term effect, as the company involved in one of the worst accidents last year is set to operate once again. The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)  said it would comply with the decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) directing it to lift the suspension order on the entire fleet of GV Florida Transit, whose bus figured in an accident that killed 14 people in February.

In March, the board grounded 186 units of GV Florida after one operating in the Cordilleras fell down a ravine in Bontoc, Mountain Province. Thirty-one passengers were also injured while the fatalities included the comedian-activist Arvin “Tado” Jimenez.

LTFRB Chair Winston Ginez explained Friday that though the suspension order would be lifted, the board would continue seeking the reversal of the CA decision.

The board had consulted the Office of the Solicitor General about its next move taking the case to the Supreme Court, he said. Should the Supreme Court reverse the CA decision, the board will compel GV Florida to serve the remainder of the six-month suspension, which was supposed to end in September. In complying with the CA decision, the board will start returning yellow license plates to the bus company starting this weekend. LTFRB personnel will supervise the reattachment of the plates to make sure they would be used only by authorized units.

But in a statement Friday, a group supporting the families of the fatalities and survivors of the Feb. 7 accident said it would accept the lifting of the suspension order only if GV Florida buses are proven “safe and all the (families) have received reparations for their losses.”

“Almost six months after [the accident], there are still victims who have not heard from the management of GV Florida,” said Leni Velasco, executive director of Dakila, a group of artists, students and activists cofounded by the late Jimenez

Velasco said the CA decision favoring the bus company brought back the pain that the grieving families felt right after the tragedy. “It makes us feel that our lives do not matter; like lives do not matter,” she said.

The group challenged GV Florida to keep its promise to extend help to the victims and prove that its buses are safe and their drivers are disciplined and well-trained.

“We will remain watchful and vigilant in our call for justice and reforms in the Philippine transport system,” she said. With a report from Jovic Yee



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