MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/6 Apr) – “Justice is still elusive. The Bureau of Fire Protection has remained silent,” according to a statement from a member of the Jardinico family of Valencia City on the occasion of the eighth anniversary of the fire that killed 12 members of their family.
Franciscan Bro. Jun Jardinico claimed the BFP has remained silent as to the investigation of the incident.
The Jardinicos will just offer Mass for their dead and “for justice that we have long searched for,” he added.
“I pray God will now touch the hearts of all concerned people in government to fast-track the long delayed justice,” he added in a statement to MindaNews Wednesday.
Earlier, Jardinico said there has been no movement in their case.
“Where is the government? Let the truth come out,” the Jardinico family has appealed in 2008 in an open letter to the public timed for the Christmas season as justice continues to elude them.
Jardinico, the family spokesperson, wrote in the letter that they have already rained appeals and follow ups to officials from the local up to the national government.
“But nothing had happened to our case for six years now. Where should we go for help?” he asked.
“Does this government really work for justice for the poor like my family? If they care, why until now we have not felt the comfort of justice?” he added.
Fire gutted the family’s two-story house in downtown Valencia City on April 6, 2003, killing 12 of the Jardinicos, including their elderly mother and seven children. Several other houses were razed in the incident.
Authorities then eyed arson, and later rounded up alleged suspects. But the family, suspicious of the angle pursued, has since questioned the investigation. The Regional Trial Court dismissed the case against the suspects in November 2005.
The family has demanded a copy of the fire bureau’s investigation report, which they suspected was fraught with alleged cover-up and whitewashing over claims of conspiracy. But the fire department has refused to give the family a copy, invoking a standard procedure requiring a court order for the release.
Jardinico said they already felt frustrated and helpless.
“We are confused where to go for help. We are therefore appealing to the public to help us, the Jardinico family, to solve this barbaric killing of innocent people by fire,” the appeal said.
“Let us not wait that you or your family will be the next victim of these greedy individuals’ interests and the people in power. Let us bind together for the sake of justice in our beloved Valencia City and in our country as a whole,” the Jardinicos said in the letter.
He said the inaction and inability of local government authorities to solve the heinous killings of 12 innocent lives has brought them years of dismay and desperation.
The Jardinicos said the tragedy has “shocked the world except the authorities of Valencia City who remained mute and deaf to our call and appeal for justice”.
The Jardinicos has brought their case to former Valencia City Mayor Jose M. Galario Jr., the late Supt. Melchor R. Bedasua, Fire Marshal Franklin O. Ratunil and FO2 Rodulfo A. Bebangco.
The family said they also appealed to incumbent Valencia Mayor Leandro Jose H. Catarata and Bukidnon Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. to help in the investigation.
But until now, Jardinico said, they have not yet received any assurance that something will happen to the case.
Jardinico said Zubiri has ordered police provincial director Noel Armilla to help the family expedite the case, but lamented that there is still no word from police and “no information received on how far the police has worked to resolve this barbaric killing of innocent lives.”
He told this reporter in an interview this week nothing has also happened when they asked help from members of the Senate and the House of Representatives to push for the investigation of the case. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)