Criminal and administrative charges have been filed against 33 people after a blaze at a Davao City mall claimed 38 lives.
The fire tore through the New City Commercial Center (NCCC) Mall on December 23 last year. Investigators soon identified a number of safety failures that led to the deaths of the victims, who were mostly workers at a business process outsourcing company on the fourth floor.
Now, the owners of the mall, officials of Survey Sampling International, city building and fire officials and officials of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) are all facing cases at the city’s prosecutor’s office.
Retired police Chief Superntendent Warlito Daus, executive assistant of the local government undersecretary on public safety, said: “Finally, we have already filed four criminal charges against 33 individuals.”
Fire Superintendent Anthony Figurasin, leader of the interagency task force investigating the tragedy, said charges of ‘reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide’ were filed against officials of LTS Malls — Lafayette Lim, chief executive officer; Helen Lim, Ivy Michelle Lim, Sharlene Faye Lim, Ivan Spencer Lim, Julie Ann Lim and Ramon del Castillo.
Also charged with the same offence were Jose Antonio San Gabriel, SSI Philippines board chair; Riza Lyn Ocampo, Rey Roble, Christopher Fanning and David Ian Weatherseed.
Officials of the mall’s contractor, AC Rockport Construction and Development, were also charged — Arturo Arrojado, Carmelie Arrojado, Maria Lilibeth Olarte, Danna Patricia Arrojado, Carmen Paluga and engineer Wilson Velasquez.
Facing graft charges were former Davao City building official Joaquin Cui along with Peza officials Sansaluna Pinagayo, Darlene Nazareno and Nicasio Mamites. Former officials of the Bureau of Fire Protection in Davao City bing charged are Carlo Duenas, Senior Jeanny Calvario, Renerio Jimenez, Dioscoro Baja, Joel Quismundo, Roger Dumag and Leo Lauzon.
Calvario, Baja, Dumag, Quismundo, Lauzon and Peza officer Arvin Tero were also charged with violating the Fire Code of the Philippines.
Cf. Supt. Daus said families of the victims have been informed about the filing of the charges.
Supt. Figurasin said the cases were based on the task force’s “exhaustive, scientific investigation into the cause, origin and responsibility” of the deadly mall fire.
“Their liability stemmed from what they did and did not do,” he said.
He added that the sprinkler systems of the mall’s third floor, and some on the fourth — where the office was located — were not working when the fire broke out.
“Had the sprinkler system been working, the effects of the blaze could have been mitigated,” he said.
The fire alarm system was also defective he added.
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