Will Ayala take responsibility for Serendra blast?

Ayala says it will implement more safety measures in the wake of the blast

CHALLENGE. Ayala Land Inc President Tony Aquino admits monitoring gas detectors of individual units is difficult. Photo by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Thirteen days after the fatal blast at Two Serendra, the president of Ayala Land Inc (ALI) sat down for an interview to address questions surrounding the incident that killed 3 and injured 4.

We asked him: Will Ayala take responsibility for the May 31 explosion that was caused by a gas leak? ALI president Antonino Aquino refused to give a categorical answer. “I think that they (government) should appropriately be the ones that will make the determination.”

While Aquino acknowledged that the property developer needs to “redouble” efforts to ensure the safety of their buildings, he said unit owners should also share this responsibility.

“I think this (individual unit) is really where the risk comes around. Because you might be completely safe on your distribution system and all the way to the building system but unfortunately as you start to go into the unit then that is when you need to make sure that other checks will be implemented,” he said in an interview with Rappler on Thursday, June 13.

Government investigators said that a gas leak caused the explosion at Unit 501-B of Two Serendra. But what caused the leak is still unclear. 

Unit owner, gas supplier

A tenant was on his way out of the unit when the explosion occurred. He is being treated for serious burns in St Luke’s Hospital in Taguig. Witnesses who went to Unit 501-B just 3 minutes before the explosion told investigators they did not smell anything unusual during their visit.

An odorant is usually added to LPG so leaks can be detected by smell.

A source familiar with the investigation has told Rappler the gas supplied to Serendra is odorless, despite the promise of Bonifacio Gas Corp (BGC) on its website it would have an odorant for added safety. (BGC supplies LPG to buildings, restaurants and establishments in Bonifacio Global City. The Ayalas have a stake in the gas corporation.)

When asked about this, Aquino said the gas supplier was expected to put an odorant in the gas. Have Serendra and other Ayala properties exerted efforts to ensure BGC installed an odorant? “They [suppliers] are always stating that… We presume that,” Aquino said.

He also added that while Serendra requires units to install a gas detector with an automatic shut-off valve before they are connected to the gas line, he said they do not have control over what unit owners do after that.

“That’s a thing you have to monitor and that’s when it is producing difficulty because as soon as you’re inside a unit, it is entirely possible that they may get misplaced, relocated, and not be used properly,” he explained.

He said what made it difficult for Serendra to monitor detectors inside units, was the need to balance residents’ privacy with security concerns and the general welfare. This is why ALI “needs the government to make that” imposition, he said.

The government on Thursday announced the mandatory installation of gas detectors and checks on establishments connected to Bonifacio Gas.

Aquino said Unit 501-B had a gas detector but they do not know if it was properly maintained. He emphasized the need to look at “day-to-day care” of gas detectors in units.

In terms of general building safety, Aquino said Serendra has continuously complied with security measures in areas under its control such as the building’s distribution system.

“Within the building we have an earthquake shut-off valve, an automatic shut-off valve, it’s similar to the one you have inside the unit and since that is largely in our control, it’s something that we can technically [check] every day,” he said.

Safety measures

Aquino said Serendra has a preventive maintenance program performed on the building system, and a “normal fire and light safety team that goes around and does the checking.” He also admitted leak detection “takes more time,” but said they do it with “specific frequency, weekly, and even monthly in some cases.”

POWERFUL EXPLOSION. Police confirm an explosion at Serendra, a posh enclave in Taguig at around 8pm on Friday, May 31. Photo by Robin Leonard

Since the blast, Aquino said all safety checks in Serendra “have been redone.”

Two Serendra’s LPG supply remains shut off since the explosion as investigation continues. 

In a bulletin distributed to Serendra residents, the company said engineers have also rechecked the structural stability of the other towers in Two Serendra. 

In One Serendra, “hourly meter reading of main meters [has been] conducted,” while safety inspections continue. Ten teams of inspectors have also begun checking gas detectors inside individual units. – Rappler.com

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.