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CEBU, Philippines – An employee of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) in Minglanilla town, Cebu, died Tuesday, December 12, in a fire inside the town courthouse believed to be his own making .
Sixty-year-old Jose Mesa Agusto was also suspected of assaulting his fellow court workers just before the blaze burned out of control.
Minglanilla Mayor Rajiv Enad talked about the fire in a Facebook post on Tuesday evening, citing a report from Captain Kalvin Golitod, the chief of the Minglanilla Police Station.
Based on the report, witnesses inside the courthouse saw Agusto burning documents under his desk using a lighter. MTC Judge Wilson Ibones instructed a court employee Darwin Rondina to scold Agusto and order him to put out the flame.
This led to a confrontation between Agusto and Rondina that later escalated with the suspect beating the latter and other attacking fellow MTC employees.
As the assault was happening, the flames under Agusto’s desk grew out of control and engulfed the courthouse. The employees were unable to escape as Agusto had locked the exit door.
In a separate Facebook post, the town mayor said 11 other MTC employees were injured in the fire, while the suspect was the lone fatality.
Traffic officer Jay Arvin Pasadas saw and heard the employees from the building’s second floor and rushed, trying to free them by kicking the door.
“Just when the door opened, Ibones fell to the ground towards (Pasadas) as he no longer had any strength,” Enad said in Cebuano.
The local fire department and other agencies which responded to the incident estimated the damage due to the fire at P6.8 million. Aside from courthouse, other government offices were also destroyed.
All of the victims, including the suspect, were brought to the Minglanilla District Hospital for medical assistance. As of this writing, most of the victims are staying at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center.
Agusto was declared dead on arrival.
“Wala pa nahibaw-i ang motibo ni Agusto (Agusto’s motive is still unknown),” The mayor said in his Facebook post. – Rappler.com