The horrible bus accident that took place two weeks ago in Tanay, Rizal, which killed fourteen students and their driver in their field trip highlighted some of the stubbornly persistent problems in the country. There had been talks and rumors about some schools forcing students to join field trips like this, which many schools denied.
But what some really stupid suggestion is to ban field trips altogether. No matter how stupid it is, the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) has already issued a memorandum suspending further field trips. It said it is to review policies of schools regarding field trips, especially with the report of anomalies and irregularities with contracts between institutions and transportation companies.
In comparison, the South Korean government also banned field trips for several months after the ship Sewol carrying high school students on a field trip sank, killing three hundred passengers – mostly students.
Many horrible road accidents involving buses has already happened in the past, often with high casualty count. Most of these were blamed with buses losing their brakes and thereby, losing control. Among these is the February 2014 accident where fourteen people were instantly killed, including comedian Arvin “Tado” Jimenez, when their bus fell to a ravine in Mountain Province, and the earlier incident in 2013 where a passenger bus fell from Skyway that resulted in the deaths of more than two dozen people.
While the owner and captain of the Sewol were found guilty of negligence crimes and were punished, most of the time the bus companies involved in these series of accidents were still scot-free. Aside from just suspending their franchises, the owners were never punished. Only the drivers of these ill-fated buses, if they survived, ended up in jail, but not their employers. And while there had been persistent calls to phase out older buses in favor of the new and often safer ones, this is often met with fierce opposition from bus companies.
We also have a chronic problem on asshole bus drivers – and asshole motorists (of other vehicles) who are always disregarding traffic rules and etiquettes and often resort in violence when exposed to confrontations. Just this weekend a motorcycle-riding man who is preparing for his marriage was shot dead by a man in a Land Cruiser over a traffic spat. That’s how violent many of our motorists are, and there are already reports of similar hot-headed bus drivers ready to kill.
Banning field trips would not stop road accidents like this. We are barking at the wrong tree. Why not focus on stricter implementation of safety rules and regulations for our public transport, and screen individuals applying for license?