Authorities identify the last of 37 bodies recovered

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 Dec) – Authorities have already confirmed the identity of the last of the 37 bodies recovered while retrieval operations for still one missing body inside the gutted four-story NCCC Mall Davao has resumed Friday.

In a press briefing in her office on Friday, Mayor Sara Dutere said authorities have identified the unrecognized remains to be that of Mikko Demafeliz’s after an anthropologist, Dr. Richard Jonathan Taduran, confirmed that the body belonged to a male victim.

Authorities were to conduct a DNA test on the unrecognized body and that samples had been taken from the family of Demafeliz, however, results will take one month, Duterte said.

Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Davao fire marshal Honey Fritz Alagano said in a text message that retrieval operations have resumed to locate Alexandra Moreno, a day after it was suspended Thursday due to the instability of the structure that might have been weakened by the fire.

Duterte said personnel from BFP 11 and Davao City Police Office (DCPO) have conducted joint efforts to locate the remains of Moreno.

She said the mall management was allowed to release cash assistance to the affected families when it asked if it could while the city will release its assistance next week.

Earlier, Duterte said NCCC, city government, and Survey Sampling International (SSI) agreed to release cash assistance to the families of fire victims.

She said the city government will shoulder expenses for the funeral and burial; SSI will help match families for livelihood packages with the Department of Labor and Employment; and NCCC will include the children of those who died in their scholarship program.

Duterte, an endorser of the Choice Mart, a subsidiary of the NCCC Supermarket, said the NCCC Mall Davao has vowed to take care of the other mall workers displaced by fire.

The fire reportedly started at the furniture section on the third floor around 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, declared under control by 8:30 a.m. Sunday, and put out at 5:15 p.m. of the same day.

Authorities found one body inside the facility’s comfort room on Sunday and 36 others at the lobby on the fourth floor on Monday.

At least 37 of the victims were call centers agents of SSI, a business process outsourcing (BPO) firm occupying the entire 4,000-square meter space on the fourth floor, and one Melvin Gaa, a key custodian of the mall.

In a statement released Wednesday, the NCCC Mall management said Gaa, who was part of the NCCC Emergency Action Team (NEAT), helped mall workers and call center agents escape the burning mall.

The other bodies identified by SOCO are Jeffrey Sismar, Mary Louielyn Bongcayao, Kurtchin Angela Bangoy, Joy Pabelonia, Christen Garzon, Jim Benedict, Jonas Basalan, Jessica Samontina, Venus Joy Quimpo, Jimboy Limosnero, Christine Joy Ferraren, Rosyl Montanez, Missry Rose Artiaga, Rhenzi Nova Muyco, Ivan Nebelle Roble, Elyn Joy Yorsua, Shiela Mae Bacaling, Roderick Antipuesto, Nancy Loyd Abad, Jessica Solis, Charlyn Liwaya, Melvin Gaa, Regine Generales, Gantioco Celestial, Apple Jane Celades, Ian Kiem Adlawan, Listen Jade Entera, Analiza Piñajiro, Christine Alviola, Roderick Constantinopla, Dresiree Gayle Zacarias, Johani Matundo, Iana Apalacio, Maryjoy Daloro, Randy Balcao, and Janine Joy Obo. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)