Man killed when wall fell on him

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Friday, August 29, 2014


CONSTRUCTION wor-ker was killed when a concrete wall fell on top of him in Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City last Wednesday night.

Two others were hurt in the incident that happened around 6:45 p.m. at the back of the University of Cebu (UC)-Mambaling campus.

The body of Ronnel Juson, 24, was discovered around 9 p.m., buried in mud.

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Mambaling Police Chief Gerard Suquib said Juson and 14 other workers were excavating the foundation for a car showroom. It was raining, he said.

“…wa sila kabantay na humok na ang yuta hinungdan sa pagkatumba atong concrete nga koral (They didn’t notice that the soil had eroded, causing the fence to collapse),” Suquib said.

No deadline

Juson was standing close to the wall and could not get out of its way.

Telbert Lauron Fernandez, 23, and Elmeo Espinosa, 22, both residents of Carcar City, suffered minor injuries.

They were brought to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC).
The Cebu City Government yesterday issued a cease-and-desist order (CDO) against the contractor.

(Sun.Star Cebu is withholding the name of the firm until it gets the latter’s side. Sun.Star Cebu had tried to contact the contractor, to no avail.)

The CDO will cover the entire car showroom project but will not include the remedial work that the contractor will undertake to fix the wall and strengthen its base, said Office of the Building Official (OBO) Chief Jose Marie Poblete.

Poblete said they’ve also required the contractor to submit a soil stabilization methodology and an incident report.

The City, though, has not set a deadline for the contractor to comply with the requirements.

Poblete said they issued the CDO after they learned during site inspection that the project does not have a building permit.

This, he said, violates Section 301 of the Presidential Decree 1096, also known as the National Building Code.

It provides that “no person, firm, or corporation, including any agency or instrumentality of the government shall erect, construct, alter, repair, move, convert or demolish any building or structure without first obtaining a building permit.”

Findings

Based on OBO’s inspection report, UC’s wall collapsed due to the excavation. Aside from the soil in the area being loose, the report also said the contractor failed to implement slope protective measures.

OBO also said the site has poor safety measures like the lack of proper access, safety gears, safety signs and lighting, among others.

It asked the contractor to improve safety measures in the area and hire a safety officer who will oversee the implementation of the project.

“Resumption of the work must only be approved once the recommendations are satisfied,” OBO said.

Meanwhile, Atty. Augusto Go, UC owner, clarified that although the wall belongs to the school, Ronnel was not their worker.

“I would like to clarify that the fence is ours but the site where the construction workers were digging does not belong to us,” Go said in a phone interview.

Go said an engineer of the firm had contacted them and assured them it would fix the wall.

Ronnel and his younger brother Romeo started working in the site almost a week ago.

Difficult rescue

Romeo, in an interview, said when the wall collapsed, all of them ran.

“At first, I thought he got away. But when I couldn’t find him I got worried,” he said in Cebuano.

They sought the help of a security guard nearby, who then called the police.

Members of Mambaling police, the Cebu City Disaster Risk-Reduction and Management Office and the Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation, among others, responded.

City Councilor Dave Tumulak said 20 rescuers used their hands to look for Ronnel’s body in the mud.

He said they had difficulty finding him. “The other workers were pointing to different places where they thought they saw Ronnel last,” said Tumulak in a phone interview.

“We presumed that he was still alive, so we did not use any machinery because it might hurt him. That is why we dug manually,” he said.

Ronnel’s body was found two hours after buried under one foot of mud.

He was rushed to the VSMMC but he was already dead before he arrived at the hospital.

Suquib said he will look into the incident and check if the contractor is liable for what happened.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 29, 2014.

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