33 may face charges in NCCC Mall Davao fire

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 8 June) – Thirty-three individuals may face criminal and administrative cases due to the NCCC Mall Davao fire incident on December 23, 2017 that killed 38 workers.

But Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) officer-in-charge Eduardo Año told a press conference at the SMX Convention Center Davao on Friday that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is still “assessing and validating” the cases to be filed against responsible individuals, three months after the DILG submitted the investigation result and recommendations.

Año said he could not ascertain the completion of the DOJ’s review as well as the timeline for the filing of cases but he urged the DOJ to finish it in order to give justice to the families of 37 call center agents and one mall worker.

“Why do we have to wait? The people must know the result of the investigation. Whatever will be the result of the investigation of the DOJ it will be entirely their own business but we want the public to know the result of the investigation because we are talking of 38 families here, 38 victims na dapat malaman ang result ng investigation (who must know the result of the investigation),” he said.

The list of names who may face possible administrative and criminal charges includes owners and officers of NCCC Mall Davao, Survey Sampling International (SSI), and officials from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) 11, City Building, Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), and private contractor, AC Rockport Construction and Development Corporation.

Fire Safety Insp. Jan Garry D. Lunas, chief of the Fire Science and Standard Development Division and Directorate for Plans and Standards at the Bureau of Fire (BFP), said cases for possible violation of reckless imprudence resulting to multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries may be filed against Helen A. Lim, Lafayette A. Lim, Ivy Michelle A. Lim, Sharlene Faye A. Lim, Ivan Spencer A. Lim, Julie Ann C. Lim, and Ramon Del Castillo.

Executives from SSI who may face similar charges are Jose Antonio T. San Gabriel, Riza Lyn M. Ocampo, Rey R. Roble, Christopher M. Fanning, David Ian Weatherseed, Arturo C. Arrojado, Carmelie P. Arojado, Maria Lilibeth A. Olarte, Danna Patricia P. Arrojado, and Carmen S. Paluga; and Engr. Wilson Velasquez from AC Rockport Construction and Development, the mall’s private contract that did the renovation.

Also, Lunas said that charges for possible violation of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act may be filed against former Davao City Building Official Joaquin B. Cui Jr.; PEZA officials, including Sansaluna A. Pinagayao, Darlyn Nazareno, and Nicasio G. Mamites of PEZA; and BFP-Davao officials, including Supt. Carlo T. Dueñas, Senior Insp. Jeanny S. Calvario, Insp. Renero G. Jimenez, Senior Fire Officer (SFO) 4 Dioscoro M. Baja Jr., SFO 2 Joel L. Quismundo, SFO 1 Roger B. Dumag, and SFO1 Leo C. Lauzon.

Separate charges for possible violation of Section 11 of R.A. 9514 or the Revised Fire Code of the Philippines of 2008 may be filed against Calvario, Baja, Quismundo, Dumag, and Lauzon, and PEZA plan evaluator Arvin O. Tero for “endorsing to the Fire Marshal for the certification, submitting a report that a building structure complies with standards set by the Fire Code of the Philippines.

Also, another charges for falsification have been recommended against Quismundo, Lauzon, and Tero; grave misconduct against Cui, Pinayagao, Nazareno, Mamites, Dueñas, Calvario, Jimenez, Baja, Quismundo, Dumag, Lauzon, and Tero.

Less grave misconduct for Simple Misconduct may be filed against former Davao City Fire Marshall and now BFP 11 assistant regional director Supt. Honey Fritz A. Alagano and CInsp. Edgar W. Tanawan

Lunas said other recommendations include relief of involved BFP personnel who were recommended for criminal/administrative charges during the pendency of the case; investigate the possible negligence in the custody of official documents by some Davao City Fire District Personnel; and intensive and sustained inspection and risk assessment of all high-risk establishments to ensure compliance of the Fire Code; issuance of memorandum from the DILG to BFP and local government units reinforcing the requirement and indispensability of Fire Safety Evaluation Clearance (FSEC) and Fire Safety Inspection Certificate; strengthen profiling of all establishments and the designation of official records custodian of fire safety related documents in all fire stations and providing penal provision for any vioaltion; assessment on the capability of BFP Fire Safety Enforcers through examination to ensure their efficiency; and enhancement of BFP firefighters on fire suppression and rescue operation involving indoor or confined fire incident.

The task force found that there was malpractice in the installation of electrical wirings during the renovation at the third floor; absence of appropriate license of some workers performing electrical works; and absence of building permit during renovation.

Also, it found out that the sprinkler systems at the fourth floor occupied by SSI was not functional; insufficient means of egress for the fourth floor; some exist doors have no self-closing device; some stairs were not fully enclosed; ground floor stair landing of the one exit was utilized as storage; failure to notify nearest fire station when the fire alarm system and sprinkler systems were out of service fore more than four hours; dry standpipes were not installed at exits; proper raceways were not provided on the electrical wirings installed at the renovated portion of the third portal; and designated fire safety inspectors failed to indicated the correct fire safety status or violations of the buildings.

The four-month demolition of the four-story NCCC Mall Davao started on May 19. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)