Regional Director Shalimar “Sha” Hofer Tamano of the Department of Tourism (DOT) warned illegal or “kabit” tour operators and transport firms that all of them will face sanctions for violation of the law.
Tamano issued this stern warning in the wake of the death of seven members of a medical mission delegation who were fatally injured after their van crashed into a mahogany tree in Alegria, Cebu on their way to Kawasan Falls in Badian from a whale swimming adventure at Oslob, 118 kilometers from Cebu City.
The almost totally-wrecked van was driven by a certain Gilbert de la Cruz, who claimed he suddenly fell asleep after four days of sleepless nights during the height of the Sinulog festivities in the province of Cebu. He survived the incident.
Tamano said the van was attached to a firm that was not accredited by the DOT but merely operated as a “kabit” or extension of the franchise.
De la Cruz who was arrested for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicides is already out on bail, Tamano said.
The Region 7 DOT director will confer shortly with the LTFRB and the LTO (Land Transportation Office) how to strictly monitor the operations of tourism-related firms to protect the welfare of tourists visiting the country.
The three survivors of the bloody incident are confined at the Chong Hua Hospital in Cebu City while the bodies of the victims were sent immediately to the St Peters Chapel in Imus, Cebu.
Region 7 is still studying legal options to file against the owner of the transport franchise who used the illegal “extension” transport operator and the latter as well.
The franchise is allocated by the DOT to ensure that only those with tip-top condition vehicles and able personnel will service tourists.
Some 2 million people visited Cebu during the last Sinulog Festival according to DOT Secretary Wanda Teo.