MANILA (UPDATE) – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has recommended the filing of criminal and administrative charges against the owner of Kentex Manufacturing Corp. and several government officials over a massive fire that claimed the lives of 74 people.
The DOJ recommended the filing of reckless imprudence resulting to multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries against Kentex operations manager Terrence King Ong; Ace Shutter Corp. owner Rosalina Uy Ngo and employees Oscar Romero and Wilmer Arenal.
Ace Shutter Corp. is the company that undertook the welding work at the factory which was blamed for triggering the fire.
The DOJ said other people may face the same charges in case further investigation on their management responsibilities and administrative functions reveals they have equal culpability on the safety of the establishment.
Facing violations of the fire code, Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and administrative charges are Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian; Renchi May Padayao, officer-in-charge of Valenzuela’s Business Permits and Licensing Office (BPLO); Eduardo Carreon, BPLO licensing officer; relieved Valenzuela City fire chief, Mel Jose Lagan; and SFO2 Rolando Avendan.
GATCHALIAN TO FACE CHARGES 'SQUARELY'
Speaking to ANC, Mayor Gatchalian said he is no longer surprised that he was charged over the fire and he will face the charges in court squarely.
"I am not surprised because if you can recall during the preliminary stages of this tragedy, they were already be saying they will be filing charges against local officials," he said.
"I have yet to receive a copy of the complaint, but one thing for sure, the local government knows we did not violate any crime. The local government knows we did not violate any law. Our actions on issuing those business permits hinge on the Robredo circular.
"Once we get a copy of the complaint we will be ready to answer in the proper forum."
According to Gatchalian, based on a circular issued by the late Interior secretary Jesse Robredo, the BFP is responsible for telling the local chief executive whether to recommend the revocation of permits of a certain establishment.
"The BFP is supposed to do the inspection and come back to the local executive and give us a list of businesses whose permits we are to revoke because of violations. In the case of Kentex, the BFP did not come back to us. The BFP did not do their part," he said.
"From day 1, we've been saying that this falls at the doorstep of the Bureau of Fire Protection. The Robredo circular is very clear with what each party should do. It allows LGU to give out provisional business permits so that we comply with the Anti-Red Tape Act, and so that we do not hamper economic growth." - with a report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News