MANILA, Philippines – On October 19 six years ago, an explosion rocked the ground floor of Glorietta 2 mall in Makati, leaving 11 people dead and around 130 others injured. Investigations followed immediately after the blast, as did speculations—was it a terrorist attack or a gas leak?
The issue died down after authorities confirmed that the leak caused the incident. But two years later, another explosion took place in Two Serendra, another Ayala property.
When asked on ANC recently about the Serendra probe, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas II said, “Dapat hindi ito mauwi sa question mark, tulad nang nangyari sa Glorietta blast (this should not end with a question mark unlike what happened in the Glorietta blast).”
Rappler looks back at the investigation on the Glorietta blast and recalls the findings of the probe. All photos in the slideshow are taken from the Newsbreak archive.
Oct 19 – An explosion rips through an area of the first floor and the basement of Glorietta 2 near the Luk Yuen Noodle House at around 1:30 pm, killing 11 people outright and wounding around 130 others.
Oct 20 – A multi-agency task force dedicated to investigating the blast is formed, with experts from the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and foreign counterparts from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Australia. RDX, an explosive component that can be found in explosive devices such as C4, is detected in the site. Ayala closes Glorietta 1 and 2 for repairs and renovations.
Oct 23 – Findings show that no bomb components were found; ruling out bombing. Cases for reckless imprudence are filed against engineers of Ayala Property Management Corporation (APMC), Makati Supermarket Corp, and MARCHEM Industrial Sales and Service Inc. Senior officers of Makati City Fire Station are also charged with neglect.
Oct 24 – Ayala Land Inc (ALI) disagrees with the gas-leak angle, arguing that nothing unusual was reported in the basement on the day of the explosion. The company hires foreign experts to conduct their own private investigation.
Nov 22 – PNP issues official statement which says that gas caused the Glorietta 2 explosion because: 1) no traces of bomb components were found, 2) no blast craters were found, surrounding areas of suspected craters did not turn up bomb parts, and 3) victims were said to have died of trauma, with the injured failing to show any signs of explosive residue.
Dec 18 – Police final report is delayed due to “new evidence.” Final report rescheduled for submission on January 4.
Jan 22 – ALI is absolved of any wrongdoing (though APMC remains under investigation) on the grounds that they are merely managers of the stricken building and are only responsible for selecting tenants and auditing. Eight engineers and officials remain charged for the Glorietta blast.
Oct 19 – First anniversary of the blast, the bereaved families gather on the blast site to remember the dead. Victims express anger at the slowness of the case. Despite supposedly receiving a P5-million assistance from ALI, they claim they have received little help from the company. None of those who were charged are sentenced.
Oct 24 – Retired Lt Col Allan Sollano, allegedly one of the first responders to the blast site, reveals he recovered a plastic bag that contained RDX latched on a diesel tank in the mall’s basement. He adds that the evidence was not present in the investigation because he was told by his superiors to shut up. Bomb-angle supporters flock around Sollano’s revelation, but the PNP responds by sticking with their earlier statement.
Oct 20 – Due to Sollano’s statement and the voices of those who suspected a bomb attack (particularly Ayala’s foreign experts), the Palace reopens the case. Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila De Lima orders all necessary documents regarding the Glorietta blast investigation to be handed over for re-investigation by a fact-finding committee. Sollano is encouraged to swear in as a witness.
Nov 11 – PNP says Sollano’s RDX find is not extraordinary given that the substance can be found in everyday items. Sollano’s superiors deny allegations of a cover-up. Families of victims doubt Sollano, saying that as an army man he had no business in police matters, and they question his intentions of coming up with possibly crucial evidence years after the investigation began.
Nov 18 – In a hearing, Sollano claims he has a wick for the fuse that set off the suspected bomb in the basement and promises to bring this evidence to the next hearing on Nov 30.
Nov 30 – Sollano fails to show up during the scheduled hearing. He claims he has security concerns and could not show up in court. DOJ expresses concern that this may weaken the bomb angle’s case and also delay court proceedings. Next hearing is scheduled on December 14.
Dec 14 – Sollano fails to show up again for the scheduled hearing, further weakening his credibility and the bomb angle’s case. His lawyer cites security threats yet again as his reason for not showing up.
Jan 13 – Fact-finding comes to a close. DOJ concludes that a methane gas build-up in the basement was the cause of the Glorietta blast. Secretary De Lima comments on the possibility of charging Sollano and anyone who could have supported him for his claims with willful obstruction of justice and for impeding criminal prosecution. The bomb angle is dismissed due to lack of evidence.
Nov 5 – Renovated Glorietta 1 reopens.
Dec 9 – Renovated Glorietta 2 along with the new Glorietta 5 are opened to the public. – Rappler.com
Sources: various news reports. Nigel Tan and MG Mora are Rappler interns.
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