Ex-QC officials, Manor Hotel owners appeal conviction over 2001 hotel fire

Ex-QC officials, Manor Hotel owners appeal conviction over 2001 hotel fire
Two former Quezon Ciy government officials and owners of the Manor Hotel file separate motions for reconsideration before the Sandiganbayan's 7th Division

MANILA, Philippines – Two former Quezon City government officials and the owners of the Manor Hotel appealed their graft conviction over a hotel fire that claimed the lives of 74 people in 2001.

Alfredo Macapugay, former city engineer, Romeo Montallana, former acting chief of the city’s electrical division, and hotel operators William Genato Rebecca Genato, Marion Fernandez, Candelaria Arañador, and Antonio Beltran all filed separate motions for reconsideration before the Sandiganbayan’s 7th Division.

The Sandiganbayan had earlier found the government officials guilty of violating Section 3 of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act after they neglected a report by the city fire marshal on the Quezon City Manor Hotel.

The report said that the hotel was operating without a business permit and had been recommended for closure in 1999 over violations of the National Fire Code and the National Building Code.

The Manor Hotel owners, meanwhile, were held liable for failing to comply with safety regulations.

Macapugay and Montallana were each sentenced to 18 to 30 years in jail (3 counts of graft), while the hotel operators were each sentenced to 12 to 20 years (two counts of graft).

Macapugay, in his appeal, said the case against him was defective as he was charged as a building official and not as a city engineer. He claimed the local government created a separate office for the building official.

Montallana, through his counsel, said he “could not be blamed for the supposed lack of inspection as he should be following orders from his superiors.”

The hotel owners, meanwhile, questioned the Sandiganbayan’s conclusion that they knowingly kept the hotel running “despite full knowledge of its violation of the Fire Code and Building Code.”

They said the prosecution also lacked proof that they conspired with the accused public officials. – Rappler.com

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