The Interior department said on Wednesday that they would charge several officials of the Bureau of Fire Protection in Davao following a Davao City mall fire that killed dozens of workers in December 2017.
“I can confirm that BFP officials will be charged for the NCCC mall fire. Our lawyers are now readying the complaints to be filed against them,” said DILG spokesperson Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya.
Malaya, however, did not divulge the names of the BFP who will be included in the complaint, which the agency based on an inter-agency probe headed by Fire Superintendent Jerry Candido.
Candido had said that also to be included in the charge sheet are the management officials of the NCCC Mall, including Survey Sampling International, Rockfort Construction Company, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, and the Davao City Building Office.
A total of 38 people were killed in the fire that broke out at the NCC Mall on Dec. 23, 2017. All the fatalities were call center agents except for NCCC employee Melvin Ga-a.
The call center agents were working for SSI which occupied the mall’s top floor.
BFP officials said the heat of the fire reached as high as 700 degrees Celcius, making it difficult for Firefighters to enter the building which was filled with dark plumes of smoke.
BFP-Davao regional director Senior Superintendent Wilberto Rico Neil Kwan Tiu, who led the firefighting operations, had apologized to the victims’ families in a vigill mass two days after the blaze.
According to the city’s fire marshal, the mall was “an enclosed space with no ventilation” even as building administrators denied allegations that there were not enough fire exits that could have saved lives.
Since the probing on the incident, some 5 city fire officials were sacked, namely City Fire Marshal Honey Friz Alagano, Inspector Renero Jimenez, Senior Fire Officer 1 Leo Lauzon, Fire Officer 2 Joel Quizmundo, and Senior Fire Officer 1 Roger Dumag.
The relief order was signed by Kwan Tiu, who said that BFP-Davao was not informed on the probe into the mall fire.
But when asked if he was among those named in the DILG complaint, Kwan Tiu declined to comment but said that he would ask for a copy of the DILG probe findings.
The NCCC mall fire was the latest major fire incident involving a mall in Davao City, since last year when a fire broke out in Gaisano Mall in January 2017.
Following an investigation, criminal charges were filed against Taipan Development Inc. president Valerie Gaisano-Sebastian and officer-in-charge Edgardo Paquigan.
Officials said that the TDI violated the local Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance and did not secure proper government clearance.