The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has forwarded to the Department of Justice (DOJ) the report and recommendations made by an interagency task force that probed the New City Commercial Center (NCCC) mall fire in Davao City that claimed 38 lives last December.
DILG OIC-Secretary Eduardo M. Ano says the Department is working closely with the DOJ on the review of the Interagency Arson Task Force’s (IATF) report which was submitted to the DOJ in early March.
“We at DILG are currently waiting for the approval of the endorsements stated in the report and will immediately adhere to any recommended actions following the release of DOJ’s final resolution,” says Ano.
The IATF report, which was forwarded to the DOJ, was endorsed to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and has been returned to the DOJ for approval.
“Rest assured that those responsible for this tragedy will be made accountable," he said.
The DILG chief says that the Department is prepared to file charges against those who were identified by the IATF to be accountable and liable for the NCCC Mall fire as soon as they hear from the DOJ.
Based on the IATF final investigation report, 18 officials of the NCCC mall, the SSI Philippines management, and the AC Rockport Construction, and 13 officials and personnel from the Davao City Office of the Building Official, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP)-Davao, and PEZA will be facing criminal and administrative raps.
Charges include reckless imprudence resulting to multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries, causing undue injury through gross inexcusable negligence, failure to exercise due diligence in ensuring safety compliances and requirements under the law, operating the business despite the repeated violations recorded by Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), among others.
“Thirty-eight lives were lost because of the apparent recklessness and negligence of several people, a tragedy which could have been avoided had the fire safety requirements of the Fire Code were followed and if the permit requirements were properly observed,” says Ano.
In December last year, a fire broke out due to a high-temperature electrical discharge on the third floor, engulfing the NCCC Mall in flames, killing 37 SSI Philippines, Inc. employees and one NCCC Mall Corp. employee two days before Christmas.
Prior to the incident, several renovations of the mall’s floors were made, rendering the sprinkler systems on the third and fourth floors non-functional and the fire escapes inaccessible.