By Arjay L. Balinbin

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Friday, March 23, ordered the arrest of the operator of the Dimple Star Transport following the accident in Occidental Mindoro late Tuesday that killed at least 19 passengers and injured 21 others.

“Pinahuli ni PRRD (ang) operator [The President ordered the arrest of the operator],” Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher “Bong” T. Go said in a statement.

The President likewise ordered the arrest of “all colorum” public utility vehicle (PUV) operators and drivers, Mr. Go added.

For his part, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Martin B. Delgra III said in a statement that the President’s directive will be implemented “nationwide.”

The President went to Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro on Friday morning to inspect the site of the Dimple Star bus accident.

Mr. Duterte also visited the survivors and went to the wake of those killed in the accident.

For her part, Senator Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-Llamanzares “urged authorities to look into the bigger picture of how the Land Transportation Office (LTO) conducts inspection of vehicles before registration or franchising.”

Ms. Poe, who chairs the Senate committee on public services, also said in a statement that she “received reports about the rampant practice of ‘no-show’ or ‘non-appearance’ of vehicles seeking new or renewal of their registration or franchise, or during emission test.”

“Information that reached us said that in paper, motor vehicles undergo and pass the test, but the reality is a number of them were never tested,” the lawmaker said.

If proven to be true, the senator also said, “then we can only imagine that because of this corrupt practice in the LTO, many vehicles, in whatever condition, can ply our roads, putting in peril unsuspecting passengers and commuters.”

The senator likewise asked if “there is an effective way of checking the road worthiness of vehicles [that are] already on the streets.”

“Where is the actual testing conducted? In cases where the LTO inspectors go to the garage of bus companies to do the testing and inspection, how sure are we that these inspectors are really doing their job and do not accept bribe money?” Ms. Poe added.