Rural Transit’s suspension in Bukidnon sought

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/21 Sept) – Bukidnon provincial board member Clive Quiño urged the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to call for the suspension of operations of the Rural Transit of Mindanao, Inc. (RTMI) in Bukidnon over alleged abuses of its bus drivers in the province’s highways.

In a privilege speech at the board’s regular session last week, Quiño has asked that the provincial government act on the alleged abuses.

“Mr. chairman, we urgently need to act on this imminent danger. According to the latest surveys, Bukidnon has the second most dangerous highway in the Philippines. With these buses plying our highways, it’s only a matter of time before we will have the deadliest highways in the country,” Quiño said.

He said RTMI might be the biggest bus company in the Philippines being worth hundreds of millions of pesos.

“Our effort to discipline this bus company may be likened to David going against Goliath. But despite this company’s wealth and influence, we cannot just take their abuses sitting down,” Quiño said.

He cited specific incidents of vehicular incidents, the most recent of which was when a government driver was killed when an RTMI bus swerved into a rescue vehicle of the municipal government of Manolo Fortich.

Two other rescuers were hurt in the incident. Quiño said the three were part of a rescue team conducting a retrieval operation on Sept. 6 for an earlier road accident in Sitio Mangima, Tankulan, Manolo Fortich town.

Quiño told MindaNews via telephone the incident triggered his call for suspension. But he noted that there were other recent incidents in the town and in other areas in Bukidnon.

He said that in the same town about three weeks prior to the incident, an RTMI bus also killed a man and his two children. They were ran over by the bus in what he described as an “utter disregard for road safety by drivers of RTMI.”

Quiño said countless near mishaps involving the bus company happen every day all over Bukidnon.

“At this exact moment I am sure … that either a motorcycle has been forced to the road shoulder or a vehicle has been forced to make a hasty and dangerous halt in the middle of the road because an RTMI bus is overtaking recklessly on a curve section,” he added.

He admitted that his father, Rogelio Quiño, the mayor of Manolo Fortich, was a victim himself when he was forced to the road side by an overspeeding RTMI bus in one incident and in another forced to abruptly stop due to an overtaking bus.

He said that the next day, the supervisor of RTMI and the driver visited their residence to apologize.

But Quiño said RTMI would not have apologized if it happened to an ordinary citizen like a habalhabal (motorcycle for hire) driver or a fish vendor.

“We’ve seen RTMI’s ridiculous neglect for safety. You can see it each and every day all over Bukidnon. Let’s do our duty. Let’s keep Bukidnon’s roads safer,” he added.

Quiño said another important concern is the safety of the passengers of the RTMI buses.

“These vehicles do not carry cargoes or mere items of commerce. These vehicles transport people. They transport commuters to their work, to their homes and families, to schools, and to many other places under their franchise,” he stressed.

The Bukidnon provincial board decided to call the attention of the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Land Transportation Office, and the Bukidnon Provincial Police Office to shed light on the road accidents and possible action against RTMI.

MindaNews contacted RTMI supervisors for comments on the issue but no one agreed to speak on the. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)