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G.V Florida lawyer admits ill-fated bus was registered under Dagupan Bus Co.

The G.V. Florida Transport bus that fell down a ravine in Bontoc earlier this month, resulting in the death of 15 passengers, was in fact a private bus registered under Dagupan Bus Company, the lawyer of G.V. Florida Transport, Inc. admitted Wednesday.

“On the O.R. [official receipt] and C.R. [certificate of registration], it is in the name of Dagupan Bus,” lawyer Alex Versoza said when asked by Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) chairman Winston Ginez during the hearing on the Florida bus crash incident.

Ginez said the bus unit was registered on July 17, 2013 at the Land Transportation Office in Quezon City.

No yellow plate

In an interview with reporters, Versoza admitted that G.V. Florida had yet to file an application for sale and transfer of the unit.

“Wala pang napafile because we have to wait for the resolution of the application of the extension of validity. Hindi maipapasok yung sale and transfer hanggat hindi pa nareresolve yung [validity of franchise], dahil kung denied yun wala ka namang a-apply-an for sale and transfer. In the event na granted yun saka ka magpa-file [ng sale and transfer] together with the dropping of the old units and substituting them with new ones, ito nga yung isa na nakastandby,” Versoza explained.

He said the bus was new, and had yet to get a yellow plate from LTFRB.

“When you say green plate, registered na siya with Land Transportation Office, but there is no yellow plate yet because it is not yet an authorized public utility vehicle. It will become an authorized public utility vehicle pag pumasa na siya sa LTFRB, dun ka na pupuwedeng tumakbo as public utility vehicle,” he said.

Borrowed plate

Versoza also admitted that G.V Florida "borrowed" the license plate of one of the buses of Mountain Province Cable Tours and put it on the ill-fated bus.

“Nakagreen plate pa lang yan actually, kaya nahiram yung isang plate, yun ang katotohanan dun. Hindi na namin pinaikot-ikot dahil iyon ang totoo,” he said.

Also present during the hearing was Dagupan Bus Company's counsel Godofredo Asuncion, but he refused to answer the questions from Ginez as he still need to study the matter.

“I was informed by the management of Dagupan Bus that it involves several transactions which I have to check first. I cannot answer or just make manifestations before this court,” he said.

Norberto Que, owner of Mountain Province Cable Tours, did not attend the hearing despite being inside the compound of LTFRB for fear of his security. He just texted Versoza and asked the lawyer to represent him.

Versoza also admitted during the hearing that neither G.V. Florida nor Que informed the LTFRB that the former had bought the 10 bus units of the latter plying the Bontoc route.

Request to reply in writing

When Ginez asked why G.V. Florida painted the bus unit still owned by Dagupan Bus with the Florida logo, floral design and distinct pink color and put a license plate on it owned by Mountain Province Cable Tours, Versoza asked that they be given enough time to answer in writing.

"We are collating all the necessary documents to support our explanation,” the lawyer said.

Ginez gave Versoza until March 3 to file G.V. Florida's position paper while Dagupan Bus Company was given five days to answer the queries.

Inspection and onsite hearing

Ginez said the LTFRB will be conducting an ocular inspection and onsite hearing in Bontoc on February 28.

To be summoned are:
  • the Department of Public Works and Highways - Cordillera Administrative Region, which conducted the onsite investigation and examined the mechanical parts of the ill-fated bus;
  • the Philippine National Police - CAR, to submit their investigation reports; and
  • the driver and the conductor of the bus, to appear and testify.

“Gusto namin ma-validate yung initial reports ng Department of Transportation and Communication-CAR at ng DPWH doon kung paano nangyari yung insidente. Mayroon silang report na nung nawalan ng kontrol yung driver dun sa vehicle ay meron siyang effort na ibangga dun sa mountain side so gusto namin makita at masukat kung gaano kalayo before nagkaroon talaga ng pagtalon sa bangin ng sasakyan,” he said.

Ginez added that the LTFRB will also be asking television networks to provide them an authenticated copy of any interviews conducted with the driver and the conductor.

“We will subpoena these reports dahil sa evidence this is what we call admission out of open court,” Ginez said.

“These are extra judicial statements that if authenticated by the cameraman at yung mismong station, ito ay pwede maging piece of evidence dahil actual testimony pati na yung mga pasahero at konduktor.”

Decision out on or before March 9

Ginez also said that the LTFRB board will be handing down its decision before the 30-day preventive suspension on G.V. Florida ends on March 9.

“We understand the plight of your drivers and conductors and all the employees. We will decide this case prior to the expiration of the 30-day suspension of March 9, just like what we did in [the case of] Don Mariano Transit Corp.,” he told the bus firm. — BM, GMA News