4-month demolition of the NCCC Mall Davao to start May 19

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 17 May) – The demolition of the ill-fated four-story NCCC Mall Davao in Ma-a will start on May 19, nearly five months after the December 23 fire that killed 38 trapped mall workers, according to NCCC Mall public relations manager Davao Thea Padua.

The demolition of the 14-year-old mall came 88 days after the City Building Official approved the mall management’s application for demolition permit on February 20. The mall applied for demolition last February 2 and paid the city a permit fee worth P187,854.

Padua told MindaNews that according to the mall’s contractor, Consunji-led DMCI Holdings Inc., it will take four months to take down the entire building. It was the same contractor that did the renovation of the mall’s third floor where the fire reportedly started.

She said the company plans to redevelop the mall. The four-story building has a combined floor area of 60,568 square meters.

The permit stated the demolition would commence only after the “building has been vacated and all utility lines such as electric, gas, telephone and water installations have been disconnected.”

It added that the demolition would be undertaken in accordance with Rule XV on “Protection and Safety Requirements for construction and demolition of building/structure” of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Presidential Decree (PD) 1096, or the National Building Code of the Philippines.

On December 24, rescuers recovered one of the 38 missing victims inside the comfort room on the fourth floor where most of the trapped workers reportedly huddled shortly after the fire broke out at 9:30 a.m. on December 23.

On December 25, Christmas Day, Senior Supt. Wilberto Rico Neil A. Kwan Tiu, BFP-11 director, announced after a mass held outside the mall that rescue and retrieval operation workers recovered 36 “charred” bodies at the lobby of the Survey Sampling International (SSI) office on the fourth floor.

Ten days later, on January 4, the last remaining body of the 38 missing was recovered in a small crack on the floor, within the area where authorities recovered the remains of 36 bodies.

The SSI (formerly Opinionology) had been operating at the NCCC Mall since 2008. The company’s new location will be at the five-story Robinsons’ Cybergate Delta along J.P. Laurel Avenue.

Initial findings of the investigation conducted by the Interagency Anti-Arson Task Force found that the NCCC Mall Davao and its call center tenant failed to comply with fire safety requirements as they found lapses in the setup of the mall’s fire alarm, sprinkler system, and fire exits.

The task force is composed of the Department of Interior and Local Government, Bureau of Fire Protection, National Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice, and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group 11.

But as of 2 p.m. Thursday, Fire Supt. Jerry Candido, the task force’s deputy team leader and spokesperson, has yet to respond to a query regarding the progress of the complaints that would be filed against responsible individuals.

It can be recalled that on March 4, Candido said that criminal complaints would be filed against the management of the NCCC Mall Davao, SSI, Rockfort Construction Company, and officials from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP)-Davao, Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), and City Building Office for the massive fire that hit the mall.

The Ma-a mall was the company’s first mall. It also opened mall in Puerto Princesa and Tagum City. Padua said NCCC is set to open the company’s second mall in the city in Buhangin by last week of July.

She said it would house the tenants from the Ma-a mall. The new mall comes installed with a building management system and a centralized system that allows the mall management to detect any emergencies to prevent a repeat of the deadly fire. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)