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'Depressed' bus operator skips probe, risks arrest.

Following a fatal road crash being blamed on one of her drivers, the owner of the Valisno Express bus company failed to attend a hearing on the incident set by a regulatory agency on Tuesday, supposedly due to bouts of depression.

A representative of Rosalinda Valisno gave this reason for her nonappearance at the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), which called for the hearing to decide whether the company's franchise should be revoked.

LTFRB Chair Winston Ginez said the reason given was not acceptable as the board still had many questions that remain unanswered in connection with the bus accident that killed four people and injured at least 18 more passengers.

The board reset the hearing to Aug. 25 and again subpoenaed Valisno as well as George Pacis, the driver of the wayward bus who, when arrested, later tested positive for drug use. Pacis remains in police detention on charges of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and physical injuries.

The LTFRB also ordered Valisno to explain within 24 hours why she shouldn't be cited in contempt and why her absence should not be a basis to have her arrested.

On the morning of Aug. 12, a speeding Valisno bus slammed into the concrete boundary marker between Quezon City and Caloocan City on Quirino Highway, instantly killing two passengers. Two other victims died in the hospital.

At Tuesday's hearing, Vivian Martinez, executive secretary of Rosalinda Valisno, told the LTFRB that the bus company operator was depressed because of the traumatic event.

Ginez maintained that the board would still want to know, for example, why the markings on the ill-fated bus indicated that it was operated by another firm, Gaseco Corp., when it was supposed to be part of a fleet registered in Valisno's name.

The official also found it hard to believe that Valisno Express posted a mere P42,513 net income in 2014, as shown in the document submitted by Martinez.

The agency earlier suspended Valisno's operations for 30 days because of the incident and ordered the company to turn over the license plates of all its buses while the board is hearing the case.

Out of Valisno's 62 units, seven had been listed as phased out while four were said to be impounded, hence only 51 pairs of yellow plates (for public utility vehicles) were expected to be surrendered to the board.

However, only the plates for 49 buses have so far been submitted. Of this number, only 29 units had a complete pair each since the other 20 had been cited for various traffic violations.

A report by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) intelligence and investigation division showed that Pacis had committed three previous violations in 2014-disregarding traffic signs, disregarding lane markings and driving without a license.

Such fact displays the driver's propensity to disregard traffic rules and regulations, the LTO said as it recommended the suspension of Pacis' driver's license for three months.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Aug 19, 2015
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