Killer buses in Bukidnon highways: In 2011 – 9 deaths in 32 RTMI bus accidents

Special Report
(First of a series)

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News Dispatch/06 October) –  Jerry Villamor, who works for the municipal government of Manolo Fortich was operating the town’s crane on September 6 in Mangima, Tankulan village. They were responding to a vehicular accident that happened earlier.

A Starex van fell off the road and they were supposed to save the victims inside the vehicle.

Instead, Villamor and colleagues Nickarter Onahon Jr and Alfredo Amolat, figured in another accident.

A bus of the Rural Transit of Mindanao, Inc. (RTMI) rammed through the rescue vehicle, apparently ignoring a warning device ahead.

Villamor died on the spot. Onahon and Amolat were rushed to the hospital for serious injuries.

The three became the latest addition to the statistics of vehicular accidents involving RTMI busses in Bukidnon’s highways.

As of September Rural Transit of Mindanao, Inc. buses figured in 32 vehicular accidents leaving a total of nine persons killed and 13 others injured in what provincial board member Clive Quiño said as “becoming very alarming.”

Quiño cited the report from Bukidnon provincial police director Rustom C. Duran, in his response to the query of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan last month.

The provincial board, through Quino, inquired about the volume of accidents following his privilege speech in the regular session in indignation of what happened that day in Mangima and many other incidents he cited.

In Duran’s report, most of the accidents happened in Bukidnon’s two cities, Malaybalay and Valencia with 17 of the 32 accidents. Valencia owns nine and Malaybalay eight cases.

Five of the cases occurred in Manolo Fortich, including that involving the local government unit’s rescue team. Three of the cases reported in Sumilao, and one each in Kalilangan and Impasug-ong.

Over nine months, these cases claimed a total of 22 victims, nine killed nine 13 injured.
Quino told Bukidnon News what’s extra shocking about the cases is that more than half of the cases happened in the cities’ poblacion areas where the speed limit of 40 kilometers per hour is supposed to be observed.

In both Malaybalay and Valencia cities, police identified the traffic accident prone areas for RTMI buses to be “within poblacion areas.”

In Manolo Fortich, where five RTMI bus accidents were reported, the accident prone areas include Mangima, Zigzag, Culaman, Diclum near DPWH and Purok 6 in Brgy. San Miguel.

In Quezon town where four accidents involving RTMI busses were reported, the accident prone areas were identified as Brgy. Palacapao, Kipolot and Sitio Buayan of Brgy. San Jose.

The other accident prone areas for RTMI buses include Brgy. San Vicente and Kisolon in Sumilao town; Brgy. Central Poblacion in Kalilangan town, and Tourism junction area and Brgy. Impalutao in Impasug-ong town.

Duran also reported that 24 of the 32 accidents have been “settled” between RTMI and the victims.

With six pending settlement, only two of the 32 accidents actually have cases filed in court. This includes the one filed by the family of Jerry Villamor.

In most of these accidents, the drivers are subjected to disciplinary action and in habitual cases, dismissed, according to Pio Banaag, RTMI liaison officer, who spoke at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on October 5.

Why the accidents? Are these cases due to Bukidnon’s road conditions?

Duran said no. The main causes of these vehicular accidents according to his report are “lack of road courtesy” and “lack of professionalism” on the part of RTMI drivers.  (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News)

Tomorrow: Is RTMI doing enough to curb the accidents?

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