BFP finds no arson angle in DOH-ARMM building fire PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 31 August 2013 11:15

The Bureau of Fire Protection in Cotabato City said the conflagration that hit a supply storage building of the Department of Health in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao was not an arson case, but was triggered by an accident.

The announcement effectively disproved an insinuation of possible arson by a griping beleaguered provincial health official, who has a strained relationship with the DOH-ARMM regional office.

ARMM officials, irked with what was for them malicious allegations, admitted having felt vindicated when the city’s fire marshal, Adam Guiamad, told Catholic station dxMS in Cotabato City last Thursday that there was nothing at the scene that could prove the two storey DOH-ARMM building was deliberately set on fire.

“We don’t’ see an arson angle here. We’re not concluding yet right now but there are more reasons for us to view the incident as something accidental. We could not figure out if the building hit by fire was a storage facility, a stockroom because there was no proper filing of the supplies kept there. There were narrow alleys inside,” Guiamad told dxMS in Filipino.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, however, said even as the BFP in Cotabato City already declared the fire as accidental, he still wants it investigated by a special team he organized Wednesday afternoon.

The burnt DOH-ARMM supply storage facility is located near Hataman’s office, the Office of the Regional Governor, inside the 32-hectare regional government compound in the eastern part of Cotabato City.

Guiamad said investigators have yet to  get the statements of employees of the ARMM’s Department of Health working in the building and surrounding offices when the fire broke out.

Guiamid also clarified that the building was not totally razed, contrary to spreading stories.

“The supplies kept in the building were not all destroyed. Only those on top of the filed supplies were burned,” Guiamad said.

The Regional Communication Group, in an emailed statement, said the team, to be led by Regional Executive Secretary Laisa Alamia, is composed of representatives from the National Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence, the Security Services Division of the Office of the Regional Governor, and the ARMM’s Bureau of Fire Protection.

ARMM officials were incensed by a published report last Wednesday purporting an arson angle on the conflagration, quoting a provincial health official as suspecting that among those possibly burned were questionable procurement documents.

ORG sources said visibly irked Hataman instructed key officials of the region’s ComGroup, during a closed-door meeting afternoon of Wednesday, to immediately organize a press briefing to update journalists covering the region about the incident.

“The governor was saddened by that report. The investigation has not even started yet,” said a highly-placed source at the Office of the Regional Governor.

The fire, which started past 10 a.m. Tuesday, was controlled an hour later by responding firemen from a station of the ARMM’s fire bureau inside the 32-regional government compound here, from the city’s fire department, and from municipal fire stations in nearby towns.

“Who in his proper frame of mind will commit arson in broad daylight, in the presence of so many employees working around? That’s too preposterous,” said eye surgeon Kadil Sinolinding Jr., ARMM’s health secretary.

Sinolinding said people spreading stories that their supply storage facility was deliberately burned should come out in the open and present evidence to support their speculations.