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Quezon City court convicts bus drivers over death of journalist

MANILA, Philippines — After 13 years, two bus drivers involved in the accident that killed journalist and professor Lourdes “Chit” Estella-Simbulan were convicted by a Quezon City court.

Drivers Daniel Espinosa and Victor Ancheta were convicted of reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property with homicide over the deadly accident along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City on May 13, 2011.

Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 83 Judge Ralph Lee, in a nine-page decision dated April 22 and released this week, sentenced the accused to two years, four months and one day in prison.

He also ordered the registered owners of the Universal Guiding Star Bus Line Corp. and Nova Auto Transport Bus Corp., the operators of the buses driven by the accused, to pay the amount of P145,165 for actual damages, P3.5 million as earning capacity, P2 million as moral damages and P2 million as exemplary damages to the family of the late journalist.

Lee said the prosecution was able to establish the elements of the crime during the trial that lasted for more than a decade.

The right of the defense to present evidence was waived after the respondents failed to appear during trial.

“Evidently, all the elements of reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property with homicide are present in the case at bar,” the ruling read.

Simbulan, then a journalism professor, was on her way to the UP Ayala Land Technohub when the bus driven by Ancheta hit the taxi carrying her. The collision caused the taxi to veer into the path of the bus driven by Espinosa.

“The proximate cause of the incident in the instant case is the concurrent recklessness of the two bus drivers,” Lee said in his ruling.