Duterte wants Pampanga grocery chain to suspend operations after quake

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 23 2019 10:19 PM

Rescuers carry a victim out of the rubble of Chuzon Building in Porac, Pampanga that collapsed during an earthquake on Monday. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA- President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday business operations of all branches of Chuzon Supermarket should be suspended after its Porac branch collapsed following a 6.1-magnitude earthquake that struck Luzon Monday.

Duterte, during a situation briefing in San Fernando, Pampanga, agreed with the proposal of Interior Secretary Eduardo Año to suspend the business permit of all Chuzon stores until an assessment of the physical stores of the chain is done.

“Well, in all probability the one who constructed the supermart here could also be the one who constructed the others. I’d like to presume that. Although I stand corrected,” the President said.

“So 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 whether the city or city engineer or whoever is competent to review the planning and inquire into what kind of materials whether they were made or applied in right sizes or was there any shortcuts made,” he added.

At least 4 bodies have been retrieved from the supermarket's Porac branch, while 8 people have been pulled out alive from the rubble as of 5 a.m. Tuesday, the Pampanga Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) said.

Rescue efforts are underway at the collapsed supermarket, as there are still signs of life under the rubble, according to Senior Supt. Samuel Tadeo of the Bureau of Fire Protection.

The PDRRMO said it has also ordered the temporary closure of Chuzon Supermarket branches in Apalit, Sto. Tomas, and Guagua towns to give way to structural assessments.

The owner of the Chuzon Supermarket in Porac town and its assistant manager have also been placed under police custody so they could answer some questions regarding the collapsed structure, police said.

Duterte has also ordered an investigation into the collapse of the supermarket’s Porac branch to determine the “structural integrity of that building” whether it was a man-made defect or just a “bad day” for the store given that it’s just 4-years-old.

“There will be a lot of questions there because one it is a newly built --- only 4 years and the fact that the intensive damage and extensive was appalling in the sense that there was a collapse and the other buildings around made also of cement and structural materials the steel eh wala namang bumagsak (nothing collapsed). It’s the only one,” the President said. 

The President added that he wants to know if there was “a deliberate move to just do away with safety standards or was there a compliance with the requirements of the law.”