By Mikhail Franz Flores

Police have identified the bus driver who hit a taxi in an accident which killed journalist and University of the Philippines professor Lourdes “Chit” Estella-Simbulan.

Investigator Nelson Apostol named Daniel Espinosa of Taytay, Rizal as the driver of the Universal Guiding Star bus that rammed the rear of the taxi carrying Simbulan on Friday.

The Universal Guiding Star Bus Line is conducting an “in-house” manhunt for Espinosa, said Edgardo Balabis, the company’s head of operations. He added Espinosa might be hiding either in Pasig or Taguig.

Balabis also said the company will continue operating until the 30-day suspension order from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board arrives at their office.

Wala pa sa amin yung order, hindi pa namin narereceive. So tuloy pa rin ang operations namin, kasi wala pa naman sa amin yung order. Kapag nasa amin na yun, titingnan namin (We haven’t received the order yet. We will continue operations because the order isn’t here yet. When it is with us, we will see what we will do),” he said in an interview with Tinig ng Plaridel.

The operations head also asked why Universal Guiding Star is being solely blamed for the accident, when an initial investigation revealed another bus sideswiped the taxi before it was hit from behind.

Nakita niyo naman yung police report ‘di ba? Na nakalagay dun na may naunang bus na nakabangga. Ang sa amin lang, bakit parang kami naman yung bineblame lahat? (You saw the police report, right? It said that another bus hit the taxi first. Why are we being blamed for everything?),” Balabis said.

Police and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority reported an unidentified first bus had hit the taxi’s side mirror shortly before the fatal second impact from the Universal Guiding Star bus.

The MMDA is studying videos taken by the closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras along Commonwealth Avenue for more detailed information on the accident.

The traffic authority has also offered a P100,000 reward for information that could lead to driver Espinosa’s capture.

Simbulan’s wake is at the Arlington Memorial Homes along Araneta Avenue, Quezon City. There will be a mass sponsored by College of Mass Communication faculty, staff and students at 6pm on Monday.

She will be cremated on Tuesday, and her ashes will be brought to the CMC for a memorial service on Wednesday at 10am at the CMC auditorium.

Simbulan is survived by her husband, Roland Simbulan, a professor of political science in UP Manila. With reports from Xianne Arcangel.


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