AT LEAST 33 individuals, including the owners of the New City Commercial Center (NCCC) in Maa, Davao City, are facing criminal and administrative cases eight months since the fire that razed the mall.
In a press conference Thursday, August 30, Inter Agency Anti-Arson Task Force team leader Fire Superintendent Anthony Figurasin said they filed the cases against these people for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries.
Based on their final report of the investigation, which will be submitted to the Department of Justice, they filed the case before the City Prosecutor's Office against the mall officers and employee.
Among those charged were Helen A. Lim, Lafayette A. Lim, Ivy Michelle A. Lim, Sharlene Faye A. Lim, Ivan Spencer A. Lim, Julie Ann C. Lim and Ramon del Castillo.
Sampling Survey International (SSI) Inc. officers Jose Antonio T. San Gabriel, Riza Lyn M. Ocampo, Rey R. Roble, Christopher M. Fanning, and David Ian Weatherseed were likewise included in the list of individuals who were charged.
For the company who constructed the building, charged were Arturo C. Arrojado, Carmelie P. Arojado, Maria Lilibeth A. Olarte, Danna Patricia P. Arrojado, Carmen S. Paluga, and Engr. Wilson Velasquez.
They also charged the personnel of the Davao City Office of the Building Official, namely, Joaquin B. Cui Jr., and Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza)-Mactan Economic Zone officials Sansaluna A. Pinagayao, Darlyn Nazareno, and Nicasio G. Mamites.
There were also seven Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) officials who were implicated, including Fire Superintendent Carlo T. Dueñas, Senior Inspector Jeanny S. Calvario, Inspector Renero G. Jimenez, Senior Fire Officer (SFO) 4 Dioscoro M. Baja Jr., SFO2 Joel L. Quismundo, SFO1 Roger B. Dumag and SFO1 Leo C. Luazon.
Calvario, Baja, Quismundo, Dumag, Lauzon and Tero will also face charges for violation of Republic Act (RA) 9514 for endorsing to the fire marshal concerned for the certification, submitting a report that the building or structure complies with the standards set by the Fire Code, its implementing rules and regulations, and other pertinent laws when the same is contrary to the fact.
Likewise, Quismondo, Lauzon, and Tero were charged with violation of Paragraph 4, Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code amended for falsification by public officer of a document and making untruthful statements in a narration of facts.
Aside from the criminal charges, former Davao Building official Cui and Peza Mactan Economic Zone officials Pinagyao, Nazareno and Mamites will also face administrative charges for grave misconduct, while all the seven officials of BFP Davao Fire District are also facing administrative charges.
Tero, Quismundo and Lauzon were also charged with grave misconduct in relation to violation committed under Section 3(e) of RA 3019, Section 11(2) of RA 9516, paragraph 4 of the RPC as amended, gross neglect of duty, falsification of official document, and gross dishonesty under the CSC law and/or Ombudsman Act.
Senior Assistant Regional Prosecutor lawyer Robert Michael Razon said the case was filed around 1:30 p.m. Thursday, August 30.
A preliminary investigation will be conducted by three investigators at the City Prosecutor's Office in Davao City.
“Once ma-receive nila, mag-issue ng subpoena ang prosecutors giving the respondents 10 days from receipt to file their counter affidavit and other countervailing evidence. Pagnakompleto na lahat, lahat ng respondents, naka-file na ng counter affidavit, usually, like this case medyo complex yong issues involved, the investigating prosecutor may actually ask for a clarificatory hearing,” he said.
He added that the prosecutor will call the complainant and the accused. The panel prosecutor will have 60 days to resolve the preliminary investigation. However, due to the number of cases filed and the number of respondents and the complexity of the issues involved, they might extend it for another 30 days.
Prior to the presentation of the cases, authorities first had a briefing with the families of the victims, who were glad with the development and asked them to put the respondents behind bars.