Task force recommends filing of cases for fatal Davao City mall fire

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 8) — The Inter-Agency Anti-Arson Taskforce has recommended the filing of charges against at least 30 persons allegedly liable for the fatal fire at NCCC mall in Davao City last December.

Interior Department Officer-In-Charge Eduardo Año told a briefing in Davao on Friday that the charges are criminal and administrative in nature.

Recommended to be charged are seven officials and personnel of the NCCC mall and five officials of the Survey Sampling International (SSI). Of the 38 victims who perished in the fire, 37 were employees of SSI, a business process outsourcing company that had offices inside the mall. One mall employee also died while rescuing the victims.

The private individuals will face charges of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and reckless imprudence resulting in multiple physical injuries.

The same criminal charges are recommended against a construction firm, Rockfort Construction that made renovation works in the building.

Adminstrative complaints for violating the anti-graft practices laws are recommended against officials from the Bureau of Fire protection in Davao and two other agencies.

Seven officials and personnel of the BFP were found to have committed misconduct in approving the mall's and SSI's fire safety compliance certificate. The BFP officials were already ordered relieved from their posts pending investigation.

Meanwhile, three officers of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority based in Mactan, Cebu are named in the recommendation for approving the business plan of SSI and its safety compliance certificate.

Año said they had forwarded the recommendation to the Department of Justice for evaluation and filing of the charges.

The task force has concluded that the fire was caused by an electrical failure due to an inappropriate wiring set-up. This is considered a violation of the electrical code.

During the investigation, the task force found three violations of the building and fire codes by the mall management: the sprinkler system at the 4th floor of the mall did not functioning, there were insufficient exits and stairways were unprotected.

The Task Force, however, considered the fire accidental in nature.

Año explained there was no delay in the investigation as the Task Force, which completed the probe in 60 days. However, they had endorsed the recommendation to the DOJ for evaluation and the determination of the appropriateness in the filing of charges.

The DOJ has yet to come out with its evaluation.