Jordan Clarkson

Fire engulfs market in BGEI lot

The old Sampaloc Market, which sits on the controversial BGEI lot in Manila, was engulfed by fire early morning of Sunday, April 1.

MANILA, Philippines – The controversial Basa-Quidote Enterprises Inc. (BGEI) lot went under fire — literally.

The old Sampaloc Market, which sits on BGEI lot in Manila, was engulfed by fire early morning of Sunday, April 1.

The Manila Fire Department told Rappler in a phone interview that the fire started at 1:50 am at the dry goods section of the market.

The fire alarm was raised to Level 3 status. The fire was put under control at 2:32 am, and was totally put out at 4:30 am.

Twitter users informed Rappler of the fire and sent some photos from the incident.

“I was at the rooftop of my dorm Legarda Place just a few steps away from Jollibee’s Bustillos branch, which is right across the market that was burned,” said Cha Agader (@charissyy) when asked how she took the picture above.    

“[It] started around 2am. Couple of min[utes] after 3 [a.m.], firetrucks were already leaving,” she added.

Arson investigators said that the fire has left P3 million-worth of estimated damages. No one was injured or killed in the incident.

Fire officials said they have already invited witnesses to help investigate how the fire started.

The BGEI used to own the lot where the market sits. It was sold to the Manila City government in 2001, then under former mayor Lito Atienza, for P34 million.

The city hall relocated in this lot the old Sampaloc market, which was displaced in its former location due to the construction of LRT Line 2.

Controversial property

The Sampaloc Market has recently been a central issue in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona. BGEI is his wife Cristina’s disputed family corporation.

In 2001, Cristina sold the BGEI lot to the Manila City Hall for P34 million, an amount that a March 2012 Commission on Audit report said was overpriced.

It is this money that the defense panel is now using to justify the multi-million-peso bank accounts of the Chief Justice.

Then Manila Mayor Lito Atienza testified before the Senate impeachment court. He said it was an urgent transaction because they needed to relocated the old Sampaloc market, which was displaced in its former location due to the construction of LRT Line 2.

Apparently, the title of the property is yet to be transferred to the Manila City Hall 11 years since the transaction. – Rappler.com