MAGSAYSAY, Occidental Mindoro—Two school officials died and 23 others were injured, four seriously, when a bus they were riding on fell off a 10-foot steep ravine in a mountain barangay here Saturday night.
Police investigators said 44 students and school officials were on their way to San Jose, also in Occidental Mindoro, to participate in the Southern Tagalog Association of State Colleges and Universities Olympics when the accident happened.
Jess Venturanza, Magsaysay municipal risk reduction management officer, identified the fatalities as Director Jonathan Peniada and professor Elmer Dacillo, all of Rizal University System in Morong, Rizal.
Venturanza said four of the injured had suffered fractured bones and were immediately brought to the San Jose District Hospital in San Jose.
The victims were part of the school delegation of Rizal University System.
Forty-four students were on board the tourist bus while the other 19 passengers, believed to be RUS school officials, were on the coaster.
In its initial report, SPO1 Daniel G. Rabanera said the student athletes were on board a two-vehicle convoy, a tourist bus, operated by the Charm Aloha Travel, and a coaster van, alleged to be a government-owned vehicle.
The convoy was negotiating downhill a two-kilometer zigzag road in sitio Bunga, Bgy. Nicolas, this town, when the bus driver, Julius Villeno, lost control of the brakes.
Villeno tried to avoid crashing on the coaster ahead, driven by Ramil Concepcion San Jose, of Teresa, Rizal. While not hitting the coaster van, the bus instead fell into a 10-foot ravine on the left side of the road.
Magsaysay Mayor Bing Barrera Fajardo, a medical practitioner herself, personally supervised the rescue operations for the victims.
The victims were initially brought to the rural health center for emergency treatment. Except for the four seriously injured who were transferred to the San Jose District Hospital, others were released.
Fajardo said the elevated zigzag road in Bgy. Nicolas had been the scene of accidents, resulting in deaths and serious injuries. “That Nicolas road is too risky for travellers,” she said.
She said she had called the attention of the Department of Public Works and Highways, including a letter-complaint to Highways Secretary Mark Villar, about the bad and dangerous condition of the Nicolas road, “but only in vain.”
It has no warning signages and no DPWH personnel assigned there to man the traffic and warn motorists. “But our complaint to the DPWH officials only fell on deaf ears,” Fajardo said.
The brand new road was just completed more than a year ago, but “now undergoing reconstruction allegedly for expansion,” MDRRMO Venturanza said.