CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama yesterday gave cinema owners one week to inspect their facilities and buildings, then report back to City Hall.

He gave the order in a meeting with cinema owners, two days after the collapse of part of the ceiling of Ayala Center Cebu’s Cinema 5 injured nine individuals.

The incident also provoked a privilege speech in the City Council’s regular session yesterday, where Councilor Roberto Cabarrubias asked the management of Ayala to review their process of selecting contractors.

Mark Evans, CEO of the company that rented Cinema 5 last Monday night, said in a statement that the ceiling’s collapse was “a very traumatic experience” for his staff.

About 350 staff, their partners and guests were in the movie house that night for a Dreamscape Networks event. Evans recalled that at 8:45 p.m., they heard an explosion from the roof and saw sparks.

“There was a very loud rumble, before water was heard, and a few drops were felt from below,” Evans said. “At that moment, water began gushing in a torrent from the ceiling, soaking everyone in their seats.”

In a statement posted on June 16 in its Facebook page, Ayala Center Cebu expressed regret over what happened and said that management was “further investigating” what caused it.

The mayor said yesterday he has tasked engineers of the establishments to inspect their cinemas and buildings themselves because the City Government has limited capability to do so.

“We don’t have enough people. How can we be embracing all, especially matters that are very technical? They are the ones who are capable. They know more their plans (for their buildings). So I have given them one week,” he said.

After conducting inspections, Rama said, the cinema owners should submit a report to the City.

Rama met yesterday with cinema owners to relay his directive. Those who attended the meeting were representatives of Ayala, Gaisano Country Mall and Oriente Theater. Representatives of SM City Cebu were invited but failed to attend.

Rama also ordered them to not just focus on their movie theaters but inspect their entire building.

“Puslan man, I was telling them bring all of your buildings. Why will we be concentrating? What is the guarantee that there will be no other areas that will fall?” he added.

For his part, Councilor Cabarrubias, chairperson of the council’s committee on infrastructure, said there is a need to ensure that only qualified and reliable contractors will be allowed to undertake construction work.

“Were the materials used in the building of Cinema 5 based on quality standards? Or is it low-cost or substandard materials that were used which led to the incident?” he said.

Cabarrubias pointed out that under Republic Act 4566 or the Contractors’ License Law, contractors must have a Philippine Contractors’ Accreditation Board license before they can undertake a project.

The council also asked Ayala and the Office of the Building Official to give recommendations to prevent a similar incident. They also asked the mall to submit an incident report.

Evans, in the statement he sent to Sun.Star yesterday, said that right after the collapse, the mall’s staff and security ran away and “hid in the exit lane” of the cinema.

He said it took at least 15 minutes before the water mains pipe was switched off and that the emergency staff arrived 25 minutes after the incident. “They arrived without tools, and were completely unequipped.”

He said the way the mall’s staff and emergency services handled the incident “made it clear there were no evacuation or disaster procedures in place.”

Evans said it was a “very traumatic experience” for his staff and guests, and that it has caused them “undue stress and injuries.”

He also said that Dreamscape has declined the mall management’s offer to take care of the medical bills of those who had to be hospitalized.

Sought for comment, Cebu Holdings Inc. corporate communications manager Atty. Jeanette Japzon said that what they are focusing on now is the ongoing investigation of the incident.

They are also ensuring that those affected are provided with proper medical care, she added.

In the June 16 statement, Ayala also assured “the public that the safety of our customers continues to be a top priority in the mall.”