DILG: Bureau of Fire officials to be charged over Davao mall fire
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Several officials of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) will face charges over a Davao City mall fire that killed dozens of workers in December 2017, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Wednesday, March 14.
“I can confirm that BFP officials will be charged for the NCCC mall fire. Our lawyers are now readying the complaints to be filed against them,” said DILG spokesperson Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya.
Malaya did not provide the names of the BFP officials in the complaint, which is based on an inter-agency probe headed by Fire Superintendent Jerry Candido.
Candido earlier said that charges were being readied against the management of NCCC Mall, including Survey Sampling International (SSI), Rockfort Construction Company, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, and the Davao City Building Office.
At least 38 people were killed in the NCCC Mall fire on December 23, 2017. All except NCCC employee Melvin Ga-a were call center agents working for SSI which leased the mall’s top floor. (READ: Mall employee tried to rescue call center agents)
Firefighters braved dark plumes of smoke and heat that reached as high as 700 degrees Celsius, which made rescue operations difficult.
BFP-Davao regional director Senior Superintendent Wilberto Rico Neil Kwan Tiu, who led the firefighting operations, apologized to the victims’ families in a vigill mass two days after the blaze.
The city’s fire marshal at the time described the mall as “an enclosed space with no ventilation” while the building’s administrators denied allegations there were not enough fire exits that could have saved lives.
Since the government started probing the incident, at least 5 city fire officials were sacked: City Fire Marshal Honey Friz Alagano, Inspector Renero Jimenez, Senior Fire Officer 1 Leo Lauzon, Fire Officer 2 Joel Quizmundo, and Senior Fire Officer 1 Roger Dumag.
The relief order was signed by Kwan Tiu, who told reporters that BFP-Davao was kept in the dark on the results of the probe into the mall fire.
Asked if he was among those named in the DILG complaint, Kwan Tiu declined to comment and only said he said he would ask for a copy of the DILG probe findings.
The NCCC mall fire was the latest major fire incident involving a mall in this city. Last year, criminal charges were filed against Taipan Development Incorporated president Valerie Gaisano-Sebastian and officer-in-charge Edgardo Paquigan in relation to a Gaisano Capital mall fire here in January 2017.
The city government said Taipan Development Incorporated, the Gaisano mall’s developer, violated the local Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance and did not secure proper government clearance. – With a report from Rambo Talabong / Rappler.com