Quezon store blast serves as wake-up call for copsBy Delfin T. Mallari Jr. |Inquirer Southern Luzon
LUCENA CITY—An explosion that tore through a store that kept gasoline in a Quezon town and which killed two people served as a wake-up call for police to enforce a law prohibiting the street sale of gasoline in bottles or containers that are not designed for handling explosive and combustible materials.
Senior Supt. Valeriano de Leon, police chief of Quezon, directed all policemen in the province to immediately stop the street sale of gasoline in bottles and containers not meant for petroleum products.
De Leon gave the order after two people were killed and nine others were injured in an explosion that ripped through a store in San Narciso town last Nov. 3.
The explosion, according to investigators, was caused by the accidental lighting of a container with gasoline in the store.
In his directive, De Leon said all municipal police stations must coordinate with local fire authorities to arrest street vendors of gasoline and other highly combustible products.
Police were informed of the explosion in Barangay Abuyon in San Narciso only on Monday as families of the victims were hesitant in reporting the blast for fear of implicating themselves in the illegal trade of gasoline in the town.
Senior Insp. Milo Tabernilla, San Narciso police chief, said all the victims of the explosion are related to each other.
Tabernilla said the village of Abuyon is more than 12 kilometers from the town proper and the store that was destroyed by the explosion had supplied fuel to village tricycles.
Relatives of the victims were forced to cooperate with the investigation when firemen started looking at the arson angle.
Tabernilla said the owner of the gasoline store, Rolando Espelita, is still at large. Rolando’s wife and two children and four other victims suffered serious burns in the blast and are still confined in Manila hospitals.
Fire investigators found that some of the victims had been playing cards in the store when Espelita tried to pull off a prank and lit a gasoline container sitting near the victims, setting off the explosion.