Resolution on complaints vs 33 persons in Davao mall fire out this month

Emergency personnel respond to a fire that broke out on the 3rd floor of the NCCC Mall in Ma-a, Davao City on 23 December 2017. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 10 December) – The decision on the draft resolution of the four-member panel tasked to do the preliminary investigation on the complaints filed by the Inter-Arson Task Force related to the NCCC Mall Davao fire last year is expected to be released this month, an official said.

The task force filed the complaints last August 31 against 33 individuals for alleged culpability in the December 23, 2017 mall fire that killed 38 workers.

Robert Michael N. Razon, senior assistant regional prosecutor, told MindaNews on Monday that no definite date has been set yet but added City Prosecutor Nestor Ledesma has committed to “endeavor to release the resolution before the anniversary” of the fire incident.

He said the content of the resolution remains confidential until approved by the City Prosecutor.

“If they think it is legally sound — findings of the prosecutors — this will be forwarded to the city prosecutor for approval,” he said.

Once approved, he said cases would then be filed in court. As of Monday, he said the draft resolution was still “pending review.”

He said the preliminary investigation was completed in late November, which was within the 90-day leeway given to the panel starting from the day the complaints were filed before the City Prosecutor.

When asked if the review can be completed anytime, Razon said “siguro” (maybe) but added it might also take time as the documents are voluminous and the charges are complex.

Charges of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries were filed against the NCCC mall officers – 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 Survey Sampling International (SSI) who faced similar charges are Jose Antonio T. San Gabriel, Riza Lyn M. Ocampo, Rey R. Roble, Christopher M. Fanning, and David Ian Weatherseed, and executives of the mall’s private contractor AC Rockport Construction and Development who handled the renovation such as Arturo C. Arrojado, Carmelie P. Arojado, Maria Lilibeth A. Olarte, Danna Patricia P. Arrojado, Carmen S. Paluga, and Engr. Wilson Velasquez.

Charges for violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act were filed against former Davao City building official Joaquin B. Cui Jr.; PEZA-Mactan officials Sansaluna A. Pinagayao, Darlyn Nazareno, and Nicasio G. Mamites of PEZA; and BFP-Davao officials Supt. Carlo T. Dueñas, Senior Insp. Jeanny S. Calvario, Insp. Renero G. Jimenez, Senior Fire Officer 4 Dioscoro M. Baja Jr., SFO 2 Joel L. Quismundo, SFO 1 Roger B. Dumag, and SFO1 Leo C. Lauzon.

Separate charges for violation of Section 11 of Republic Act 9514 or the Revised Fire Code of the Philippines of 2008 were 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 or structure complies with standards set by the Fire Code of the Philippines.”

Charges for falsification of public documents were also filed against Quismundo, Lauzon and Tero, and grave misconduct for violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019 and Section 11(2) of RA 9514, and neglect of duty under the Civil Service Commission Law and/or Ombudsman Act against Cui, Pinayagao, Nazareno, Mamites, Dueñas, Calvario, Jimenez, Baja, Quismundo, Dumag, and Lauzon.

Charges for grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, falsification of official document and gross dishonesty under the CSC Law and/or Ombudsman Act were filed against Tero, Quismundo, and Lauzon.

Thirty-seven call center agents and one mall utility worker trapped on the fourth floor where the SSI was operating died in the fire.

The task force said 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 a building permit for the renovation.

Its other findings include nonfunctional sprinkler systems at the fourth floor occupied by SSI, insufficient means of egress for the fourth floor, and failure to notify nearest fire station when the fire alarm system and sprinkler systems were out of service for more than four hours. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)