BFP men to face charges over Davao mall fire

DAVAO CITY — The Inter-Agency Anti-Arson Task Force (IATF) has initially identified eight personnel of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in Davao City who maybe liable for the fire safety lapses in the New City Commercial Center (NCCC) Mall and the Survey Sampling International (SSI) fire incident that took 38 lives.

But IATF spokesperson Jerome Candido refused to name the eight BFP personnel, some of whom already retired from service.

“We cannot yet name names dahil hindi pa nga kumpleto ang mga documents na nire-request namin sa different offices (We already identified the personnel but we cannot give the names yet because we have not yet completed the documents we requested from different offices),” Candido said.

He said the people they were looking at were fire safety inspectors, personnel of fire enforcement division, fire station chief and the district fire marshall.

“Hindi po ako makabigay kung ano ang specific charges (I cannot also give yet the specific charges against them),” he said.

He stressed the investigating team was now backtracking the records of the Davao City Fire District pertaining to the fire safety inspection certificates issued to NCCC Mall Davao in 2003 and SSI Philippines in 2008 under different names.

“Our backtracking starts in 2003 in so far as NCCC Mall is concern while sa call center (SSI Philippines) was 2008,” he said.

He said the task force had yet to complete the documents they asked from the Davao City Fire District and Office of the City Building Official.

Candido said his team also asked the NCCC Mall and SSI Philippines to provide them with some documents, such as the fire safety inspection certificate.The IATF has also requested the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) for documents since it issued permit to SSI Philippines when the establishment operated in the city.

According to the Davao City Fire District, PEZA used to have exclusive jurisdiction on SSI Philippines.

Candido said the task force wanted to check the occupancy permit granted by the agency to SSI.

According to Candido, all establishments whether registered or not with PEZA need to be inspected before these are issued occupancy permit by the local government.

“Yun ang hinahanap natin, kung sino ang nag-issue, (That’s what we are looking for who issued it) because evidently, SSI was allowed to occupy even if they do not have an automatic fire suppression system,” he said.

Candido said the IATF is already about 70 percent complete with the gathering of documents.

By Friday, he said the IATF could submit the report on NCCC Mall fire incident. Armando Fenequito Jr/PNA –