Body found at NCCC Mall Davao not among the fire victims

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/18 July) – The skeletal remains found last week at the burned NCCC Mall Davao belonged to a person who was only dead for 12 to 16 days based on a forensic examination, an official from the Regional Crime Laboratory Office (RCLO) 11 of the Philippine National Police said.

Body bags containing the remains of the victims of the 23 December 2017 fire at NCCC Mall Davao are brought inside the Cosmopolitan Funeral Parlor in Davao City. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Chief Insp. Dr. Nolan Genova, RCLO 11 medico legal officer told MindaNews in an interview that the forensic experts believed the body could not have belonged to one of the 38 trapped victims as his skeletal remains had decomposing flesh, indicating that he was not dead for long.

The victim, a male between 25 and 35 years old, 5’4’’ to 5’7’’ in height, wearing red polo shirt and jeans with a Unisilver wrist watch, would have been all bones had he been dead since December 23 last year, the day the mall caught fire, he said.

It would only take a month before the flesh gets completely decomposed, he said.

He said authorities should investigate the contractor handling the demolition of the razed four-story mall for the “irregularities” in the retrieval of the skeletal remains.

He questioned why the contractor did not report immediately to authorities after its workers discovered the remains, but placed them instead in a box before police could even investigate the area.

“Mag-investigate dun sa loob. May irregularities (They should investigate there. There are irregularities),” he said.

Workers discovered a skull on the third floor last July 10 or 52 days since demolition started and nearly seven months after the fire incident, City Fire Marshal Major Virna Silagan said in an interview on July 12.

She said workers did not push further into the rubble as the area might collapse but more skeletal remains were discovered as they continued the clearing on Wednesday morning last week.

D.M. Consunji Inc. has been contracted for the demolition.

“Kapag may nakita kang bangkay tatawag ka ng authority hindi kukunin, ilagay sa box tapos tatawag ng authority (If you saw a body, you immediately call the authority. You don’t pick it up and place it in the box and then you call the authority),” Genova said.

He said the victim’s jaw and throat were missing but added there were no fractures on the bones or any cause of trauma that might have resulted to his death.

He said what the authorities know for now is that the victim was “nasunog o sinunog” (burned or deliberately burned).

“Pwedeng patay nang nasunog (It’s possible he was already dead when he was burned),” he said.

Last May 25, Day 6 of the demolition, a minor fire was reportedly ignited by cutting torches as workers cleared the four-story building of the voluminous debris of light trash and Styrofoam.

The fire was immediately put out and no casualty was reported.

Genova said they retrieved the bones for examination on Thursday and completed it the following day.

He said the Talomo police station has not received reports of a missing person. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)