MANILA (UPDATED) - The Sandiganbayan 5th Division found seven former officials of the Quezon City Engineer's Office guilty beyond reasonable doubt of a violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act in connection with the Ozone Disco club fire on March 18, 1996, killing 162 people.
Alfredo Macapugay, Donato Rivera Jr., Francisco Itliong, Feliciano Sagana, Petronillo De Llamas and Rolando Mamaid were sentenced "each to suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of six years and one month as minimum to 10 years as maximum with perpetual disqualification to hold public office."
In the decision penned by Associate Justice Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta, the court said: "There can never be a slapdash approval of a building permit and certificate of occupancy. To shrink from this duty will certainly run at risk all safety standards contemplated by the National Building Code."
The court also found Hermilo Ocampo, president of Westwood Entertainment which owns the disco, and Westwood treasurer Ramon Ng "guilty beyond reasonable doubt of a violation of section 3 of Republic Act No. 3019 also know as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and are sentenced to each suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of six years and one as minimum and 10 years as maximum."
At the same time, accused Racquel Ocampo, Rosita Ky, Sunny Ku and Alfredo Chua are acquitted of the offense charged "for lack of proof beyond reasonable doubt."
The clerk of court clarified those convicted are not going straight to prison since they are still on bail and they can file a motion for reconsideration within 15 days.
One of those accused, Alfredo Chua, said he is happy that the court did not find him guilty but said he is still saddened by the tragedy.
The Ozone Disco Club fire has been officially acknowledged as the worst fire in Philippine History and among the 10 worst nightclub fires in the world.