Unilever execs deny liability for concert deaths

EXECUTIVES of consumer goods company Unilever, who are facing criminal negligence complaints before the Department of Justice (DOJ), deny any wrongdoing in the death of five people during the Close-Up Forever Summer concert in May 2016, their legal counsel said Friday.

In an interview with Unilever's legal counsel George Aquino after the closed door investigation of the Department of Justice (DOJ), he said the National Bureau of Investigation's (NBI) complaint is "erroneous."

Several Unilever officials and Close-Up rave party organizers are being sued for criminal negligence after the NBI, which conducted an investigation, found them to be at fault for the deaths of the victims.

"We don't begrudge them (complainants) for resorting to a legal process but of course our duty as counsel for Unilever is to highlight that with due respect, it's erroneous to go after an organization; they went after certain officers in the organization simply because they are officers without even any relation to the event," Aquino said.

Aquino said that the complaint filed against his clients lack basis.

"The case filed against Unilever has no basis. Our counter affidavit will show. Unfortunate as it was that there were some deaths, there is no logical link to Unilever. There is no connection to the Unilever. Up to now, we have not seen... we respect that they (private complainants) are grieving but believe our respondents are also victims because they were dragged into the case."

The camp of Unilever executives has filed on Friday's preliminary investigation their respective reply affidavits on the criminal negligence case filed against them by the NBI.

Named respondents in the case are Rohit Jawa, chairman and CEO of Unilever Philippines; Jesus Canlapan, manager for Workplace Services and Facility Security; Albert Curnelius Trinidad, marketing director of Close Up; Joy Dalanon-Ocampo, country manager for Safety Health and Environment (SHE); Melissa Alcayaga, procurement manager; Bea Lagdameo, Close-Up assistant brand manager; and Anna Kristina Doctolero, project manager.

Those from the side of organizers facing charges are Baby Majalia Ahamadul, senior account manager of Activations Advertising Inc.; Reginald Soriano; Eduardo Muego; John Paul DemontaƱo; and Alexis Engelberto.

The charges against them were filed following the death of Ariel Leal, Lance Garcia, Ken Miyagawa, Bianca Fontejon, and Eric Anthony Miller during Close Up's rave party at the Mall of Asia grounds on May 22.

NBI Forensic Investigation team said the MDMA methylene homolog (ecstasy) and methylene dioxin cathenones (Bath salts) found in the bodies of the victims may have caused their deaths.

The next hearing is scheduled for April 24. (SunStar Philippines)

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