Negros Occidental

Police arrest janitor who burned school, mayor’s houses in San Carlos

Erwin Delilan

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Police arrest janitor who burned school, mayor’s houses in San Carlos

DESTRUCTION. A fire destroys a school and houses owned by Mayor Renato Gustilo's family in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, on June 14.

San Carlos City DRRMO

The suspect confesses to being responsible for the arson, saying he started the fire because the school principal terminated his services

BACOLOD, Philippines – Authorities arrested on Saturday, June 15, a school janitor who allegedly set a school on fire in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, after he lost his job.

Police said a complaint was being prepared against 58-year-old janitor Rico Cabales of San Julio Subdivision, Barangay 2, San Carlos after investigation showed he started the June 14 fire, which spread to two houses and displaced the city’s mayor, Renato Gustilo, and his family.

The 58-year-old Cabales has been detained at the San Carlos City Police Office, and a complaint for arson would be filed against him before the city prosecutor’s office on Tuesday, June 18, immediately after the Eid al-Adha holiday, said police Chief Master Sergeant Elmer Fajardo.

Fire Officer 3 Joseph Earl Solibio said the fire started past 3 pm and lasted until 6:12 pm on Friday.

Police said Cabales, a known binge-drinker, was arrested the following morning after CCTV footage showed he set Daisy’s ABC School on Ylagan Street on fire.

Police said Cabales confessed to being responsible for the arson because he was angry at the school’s principal for terminating his services effective last Saturday. He worked for the school for only four months.

Investigators said Cabales admitted he was drunk when he used a lit cigarette and a gallon of gasoline to start the fire.

The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) said the fire quickly spread because it was windy at the time, and destroyed two ancestral homes owned by the family of San Carlos Mayor Gustilo.

Gustillo, who was in Manila at that time, told Rappler on Sunday, June 16, that his family saved nothing from the fire.

“We lost everything – two ancestral houses. We lost antiques and other precious furniture among other valuables as well. It cost us several millions of pesos,” he said.

He, however, said he was thankful that his wife, 31-year-old daughter, and house helpers survived the fire unscathed.

“I really thank the Lord for saving my family,” Gustillo said.

He said he and his family were now staying at his sister’s house in San Carlos.

Gustilo hinted that his family would file a complaint against Cabales, saying he was leaving legal matters to his lawyers.

Gustilo said he has yet to personally meet Cabales who has been begging the school and the mayor for forgiveness. –

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