The Department of Education (DepEd) on Saturday mourned the death of 5 students in a road crash in Zamboanguita town, Negros Oriental on Friday.
DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said such incidents could be avoided as she challenged agencies to tighten regulation, assessment, and monitoring of public vehicles.
"We did not lose only the lives of children, we lost so much promise," she said.
"This incident is so much more intense because it involved children, innocent children and these children who are special," Briones added, as she seeks to put an end to unsafe and illegal common carriers putting lives at risks.
It appeared that the van boarded by the victims is a "colorum" vehicle able to transport passengers via "kabit system," the DepEd legal department report said.
The students were members of MathSayaw team of Basay National High School and were bound for home from a tournament in Cebu City.
They were on board a commuter van when driver Jaypee Sarad lost control of the vehicle allegedly due to the slippery road and collided with a cargo truck in Barangay Bay abon, Friday morning.
Among the fatalities were twins Ch erry Rose and Cherry Ann Kadusale, 17, Joshua Busmeon, 18, Kevin Aguilar, 14, and Christian Buenconsejo, 17.
Another passenger of the van, who has yet to be identified, also died.
Briones and DepEd officials paid tribute at the victims' wake at a memorial chapel in Dumaguete City.
--Report from Nico Delfin, ABS-CBN News