MANILA — The owner of Chuzon Supermarket could be held liable after one of its branches in Porac, Pampanga collapsed due to the 6.1 magnitude earthquake that struck Luzon on Monday, a Philippine National Police (PNP) official said on Thursday.
“Whether the people here decide to file a criminal case or not, of course the civil liability is number one. What happened here was reckless imprudence. It’s because probably the building was substandard. The local officials might also be held liable because the supermarket was given a permit to operate. And if they violated the building code, as far as the strength of materials is concerned, that is also a violation,” PNP chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde, told reporters on Thursday.
Albayalde said the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) already interviewed the owner of the supermarket and asked him to submit pertinent documents which will be necessary for the ongoing investigation.
The PNP chief said they are also coordinating with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) which is also investigating the matter particularly on the structural capability and components of the building.
“For now, no case has been filed. All statements of complainants are being taken by the CIDG and we are preparing to file a case once we get all their statements,” Albayalde said.
He said authorities will not stop the search, rescue and retrieval operations at the supermarket as 14 persons remain missing.
Following the incident, President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday ordered all Chuzon supermarkets to cease operations.
“It would be good at this time to just give them the advice to stop, cease and desist doing business until such time that the clearance given by government,” said Duterte during a situation briefing in San Fernando, Pampanga.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said his agency will soon be issuing a memorandum circular to temporarily suspend all Chuzon supermarkets’ business permits until their buildings’ structural integrity have been re-assessed.
There are about four other Chuzon supermarkets around Pampanga aside from the one which collapsed, Año said. He said the structure which collapsed was built only about four years ago.
Año said the structural design of the supermarket is “only good for” a two-story building, however, it was constructed to have four floors. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan /PNA – northboundasia.com