Breaking Down the Ceres Bus Accident: What Went Wrong?

Image of the bus involved in the Ceres Bus Accident in Hamtic, Antique, Philippines
Source: Iloilo City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office-Urban Search and Rescue

On December 5, 2023, tragedy struck in Antique, Philippines, when a Ceres Liner bus operated by Vallacar Transit Inc. (VTI) careened off a perilous curve, resulting in 19 casualties.

The impact was quite severe, leading to the bus plunging into a ravine at Barangay Igbucagay. The grueling rescue operation took 11 hours, lasting into the early hours of Wednesday.

Among the 19 victims in the Ceres bus accident, were two foreigners as well – Federica Singh of India and Patrick Mosumi from Kenya. The heroic actions of Ceres bus inspector Jose Glen Fandagani during the accident also deserve recognition.

Details of the Accident

1. What Happened?

A Ceres Liner bus, carrying more than 50 passengers, traveling from Iloilo City to Antiqueplunged plunged off the road and fell into a ravine at Barangay Igbucagay in Hamtic, Antique, in Central Philippines.

According to initial reports, the bus, attempting to overtake another vehicle, lost control, crashed through the barrier, and fell into the cliff.

According to James Ibanez, a witness, the bus seemed “already distressed.”

The challenging terrain made rescue operations difficult, extending the recovery process. Emergency personnel, including the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, worked tirelessly for 11 hours to rescue passengers pinned under the wreckage.

The accident unfolded on a treacherous stretch known locally as a “killer curve” in Hamtic town, a location with a history of previous accidents.

2. Victims and Survivors

As of December 12, 2023, the death toll in the Cares Bus Accident has reached 19 individuals.

Among the deceased were bus driver Ricky Serios, conductor Wilmar Marcelino, and bus inspector Jose Glenn “Jayvon” Fandagani, along with two foreign passengers – Federica Singh of India and Patrick Mosumi from Kenya.

The injured passengers are receiving medical care in various hospitals in Iloilo, with some in critical condition.

4. Cause of Ceres Bus Accident

The primary cause identified by the police investigation was the brake malfunction of the Ceres Liner Bus, leading to the loss of control and the subsequent plunge off the road.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is conducting a thorough investigation into the accident. On December 11, Official statements regarding the cause of the Hamtic bus accident are awaited.

The bus accident occurred in an accident-prone area called the “Killer Curve” that Antique Governor Rhodora Cadiao says “might have a design fault.”

On December 10, it was disclosed that authorities successfully obtained the dashcam and memory card from the Ceres Liner bus involved in the accident.

“I implore Police Col. Abran to expedite the return of the equipment and solicit support from the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) to thoroughly examine the details of the incident involving the Ceres bus. It is crucial to scrutinize every perspective to comprehend the factors contributing to this tragedy,” stated Governor Rhodora Cadiao.

5. History Repeats: Past Incidents at the “Killer Curve”

The accident-prone area had earned its ominous moniker due to a history of previous incidents. In 2018, three buses met a similar fate, claiming around 30 lives.

Another incident occurred the following year, leaving three dead and seven injured.

After the Hamtic bus accident, the governor urged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Regional Development Council to conduct a comprehensive study to understand why accidents are more prevalent in that specific area.

Aftermath of the Hamtic Bus Accident

Image of bus inspector Jose Glenn Jayvon Fandagani who died in the Ceres bus Accident
Bus inspector Jose Glenn Jayvon Fandagani has been hailed as a hero for sacrificing his life to save a passenger.

1. Support For the Affected

Acknowledging the profound impact on the victims’ families, the provincial government and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) pledged financial assistance. The support aims to alleviate the immediate burdens faced by the families of the deceased.

Antique Governor Rhodora Cadiao expressed condolences and assured financial assistance to the victims’ families.

She assured an initial payment of P20,000 in financial assistance to each of the fatalities’ families.

As per DYEZ Aksyon Radyo,  a radio station owned and operated by Manila Broadcasting Company, as of December 8, 2023, only 6 families have received P60,000 from the DSWD.

2. Suspension and Apology

In response to the bus accident in Antique, the LTFRB suspended the entire fleet of 15 Ceres Liner buses for 90 days.

Vallacar Transit Inc. (VTI), the parent company of Ceres Liner Buses, issued a public apology and committed to assisting victims. It also assured offering financial assistance to the affected passengers and their families, covering their medical or burial expenses.

VTI also voluntarily suspended the remaining 12 units under the franchise, pending investigation.

3. Addressing Safety Concerns

The LTFRB also initiated several measures to address safety concerns. It directed VTI to submit proof of roadworthiness of all their buses and conduct a road safety seminar, and compulsory drug testing for drivers and conductors.

4. Bus Inspector Jose Glenn “Jayvon” Fandagani Hailed as a Hero

Bus inspector Jose Glenn “Jayvon” Fandagani is being praised as a hero for bravely saving the life of Mica Marie Servano, an elementary school teacher.

Servano, who works at Lindero Elementary School in Tobias Fornier town, shared with the governor that Fandagani shielded her with his body as the bus descended, ensuring her safety.

Key Takeaway

The bus accident in Antique serves as a somber reminder of the critical importance of transportation safety. As investigations continue, the incident prompts a collective call for comprehensive measures to prevent such tragedies in the future.

The lives lost underscore the urgency of addressing not only the immediate causes but also systemic issues contributing to road accidents.

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