Consuls in NLEx accident want bus firm suspended
MANILA, Philippines–The family of two honorary consuls has sought an investigation into a bus company plying north Luzon for negligence, after one of its buses rammed their vehicle last weekend.
Rene and Fortune Ledesma, honorary consuls of Bulgaria and Monaco in the Philippines, respectively, and their family were injured when a First North Luzon Transit bus rear-ended their Hyundai Starex van on the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) in Apalit, Pampanga, on Jan. 4.
His mother appeared to have suffered the worst injury, according to son RJ Ledesma, with a bone-deep cut on her forehead that required surgery.
On Thursday, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) summoned representatives of the bus company to a hearing next week.
The Ledesma couple, along with other son Rico, his wife Sheila, their 2-year-old daughter, nanny Delia Espinosa and driver Eduardo Pineda were returning to Manila from Baguio City when they were caught in traffic on the inner southbound lane of the NLEx in Barangay (village) San Juan around 11 a.m. on Sunday.
Based on the Apalit police report on the incident, the Ledesmas’ car was slowing to stop, following the vehicles ahead, when the First North Luzon bus behind them driven by Paul Villanueva, 44, crashed into their rear.
The impact pushed the Starex into the rear of the Baliwag bus in front of it. The Starex was crumpled between the buses and its engine burst into flames.
The van passengers all sustained cuts and bruises, with Mrs. Ledesma losing consciousness after hitting her head in the back of the driver’s seat. The car fire was put out and the family was brought to a hospital by an NLEx patrol.
As of Thursday, the family was still recovering from their injuries, RJ Ledesma said.
While Villanueva faces a complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in physical injuries and damage to property, the Ledesmas said they also wanted the bus company held accountable for the accident.
“What appalls me most was the lack of assistance from First North Luzon at the height of the accident,” RJ Ledesma said in an interview. “My family was not offered any kind of assistance, nor any words of comfort.”
It was through his injured brother Rico’s efforts that the family able to get in touch with Victory Liner. First North Luzon Transit is a subsidiary of Victory Liner, RJ said.
RJ said they eventually got hold of First North Luzon’s owner, Rolly de Leon, who sent company lawyer Ding Halili to meet with the family. RJ said Halili only appeared at the Apalit police station the next day, offering them a settlement.
“Although we are thankful everyone survived, my family could have easily died. I don’t wish the stress, trauma and agony that happened to me and my family to happen to anybody else, especially given the response shown by First North Luzon Transit Inc.,” RJ said in a statement.
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