(DEADLY MARKET FIRE) Apolinario assumes full responsibility PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 03 November 2015 13:34

By BHONG SIMBAJON

Acting City Administrator and concurrent CDRRMO chief Dr. Elmeir Apolinario yesterday assumed full responsibility for the horrible public market fire at dawn Saturday where 15 people including children and women perished and 15 others injured.

The victims were trapped in the market compound with gates locked as a standard procedure being implemented after business hours.

The presence of the victims in the market, especially the women and children, is being questioned since there is an existing city policy that one is allowed inside th compound after business hour.

Apolinario said that since it is the mandate of his office to look into the enterprises of the city government and the full operation of the city’s public markets, then it is given in their tasks to take the consequences of incidents  that happened within their jurisdictions no matter what and where it will take them.

“As the acting city administrator, I take full responsibility on the incident, and I am willing to cooperate in the conduct of ongoing investigation by the combined probe team of the city legal office and the Bureau of Fire from Manila,” Apolinario said.

Under Market Ordinance 201-87 which was enacted in 1997, nobody should be staying inside the 5.5-hectare complex of the city’s old market after its closing time at 7:30pm, except for the designated security guards and personnel on duty of the city government.

Apolinario said that it is clearly stipulated in details under the Market Code that there should be no occupants inside the public market because it is strictly for enterprise and not for dwellings. And his question is why are those people there inside at the time of the incident, where they should not be there.

“I admit there are lapses in the ordinance implementation, we know that there is no habitation, but how come they are inside at the time of the incident. It is subject of the combined investigation,” Apolinario stressed.

The OIC administrator said that he himself also wants to clear his name on this issue, but will take full responsibility of the incident without pre-empting the ongoing investigation.

Apolinario also belied the allegations of arson and other speculative reports about the alleged intentions of some quarters to allegedly fast track the clearing of the chaotic situation of illegal settlers in the said location.

“We will base our statements and gathering of evidences on facts and not on various speculations that has reached the attention of the media, and we will answer in proper forum,” Apolinario added.

He saidthat he is personally happy that people from BFP Manila are here in the city to conduct a full dressed investigation on the incident and they expect cooperation and more balanced information to be given.

City Legal Officer Jesus Carbon said that he has formed a special probe team to look into the process of fast tracking the separate administrative investigation on the matter so that the city government can already determine the culpabilities and identities of those employees responsible in the public market operation.

“We are in the process of getting the affidavits of Dr. Apolinario, Market Superintendent Nonong Asuncion and other personnel assigned in the said establishment,” Carbon said.

As to the technical aspect and criminal liabilities of the government employees concerned, they will wait the results of the ongoing investigations of the Bureau of Fire and the PNP as well to determine the culpability of the ones responsible.

“We are dependent on the technical investigation of the BFP composite team from Manila to shed light on this matter. We need guidance from them to determine the criminal liabilities. Definitely, administrative cases will be filed soon,” Carbon said.

He said that if ever there are substantial evidences pointing responsibilities of the government employees involved in the market operations, then administrative penalties will be imposed like suspension and dismissal.

The city legal officer revealed that there will be no whitewash in the investigation as they will also exercise the due process.

A total of 282 market stalls made of light materials and buildings were razed in the fire that broke out around 3:15 a.m. on Saturday. – Bhong Simbajon/RMN News