Quantcast
Latest Stories

Serendra unit occupant dies 34 days after blast

By

It was Angelito San Juan’s 63rd birthday when he was caught in a blast that tore through a unit at a high-end condominium where he was staying at in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig.

It would turn out to be his last birthday.

San Juan, who was visiting from California, died Thursday at 12:20 a.m. at St. Luke’s Medical Center BGC, where he had been confined since the blast tore through unit 501-B in Two Serendra building on May 31.

San Juan suffered burns on 85 percent of his body, as well as major internal injuries. Family lawyer Raymond Fortun told reporters that San Juan died of multiple organ failure following the extensive burns he suffered.

“The doctors were waiting for his condition to stabilize because they feared his body could not bear the stress of an operation,” Fortun said.

Foreign experts to help

San Juan was the fourth person to die from the blast believed caused by a gas leak. Three appliance store employees in a passing delivery truck were crushed to death by a wall blown up after the explosion.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas expressed his condolences to the San Juan family and promised a “thorough and conclusive” investigation. He said the government had commissioned foreign experts to help in the probe.

“It’s clear that the incident was a gas explosion,” Roxas said in an e-mailed statement. “The question now is why the system failed. Was the design flawed?”

“Did the sensors and the automatic shutoff system fail? That’s why we sought the help of the experts because we cannot tell what really happened.”

‘Electricity over his body’

The blast occurred hours after San Juan arrived in the Philippines to attend the wedding of his high school classmate’s daughter.

He was lent the unit by fellow US immigrants George and Marianne Cayton, who bought the property in 2008 as their vacation home in the Philippines.

San Juan was on his way out to a birthday dinner when the explosion occurred. Despite his burns, he was able to make it to the ground floor, where his friend, Herminia Ochoa, was waiting.

Whisked off to a hospital by an ambulance, San Juan told Ochoa that as he was opening the apartment door, “there was an explosion and he felt electricity all over his body,” Fortun quoted Ochoa as saying.

Legal steps

Investigators had initially tagged San Juan as a “person of interest” in the case, but he was cleared of any suspicion, as the cause of the blast was traced to a gas buildup.

“From the very beginning, Mr. San Juan was a victim,” Fortun said. “The family has not made any decisions on whether they will be taking any legal steps as a result of his death.”

Serendra Inc., the developer of the Two Serendra condominium where the explosion occurred, has decided to permanently shut down the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) system piped into the residential units in the building, as well as in the adjacent One Serendra.

Ayala Land Inc., a shareholder of the company, announced the shutdown decision on Tuesday.

‘Highly insulting’

“It appears to be an implied admission of liability, that their gas system is unreliable. It was done even before the conclusion of the investigation,” Fortun said.

Fortun criticized Serendra Inc. for virtually “blaming the unit owners” when it said that it was shutting down the gas system because it could not “ensure the continuing compliance by individual unit owners with the required safety measures within their units.”

“I feel that that corporate statement is highly insulting to the unit owners,” Fortun said. “Ayala enticed these owners to purchase property that is expensive that most of these people purchased with hard-earned money. Now they are being blamed for failing to comply with safety measures?”

“To begin with, the obligation to take care and put up safety measures and to maintain these belong to the building management and property managers,” Fortun said.

Speed up probe

Ayala Land has been coordinating with the San Juan family regarding San Juan’s hospitalization and his funeral but has not communicated with the Caytons, Fortun said.

Also a counsel to the Caytons, Fortun said that when she was in the Philippines last month to submit documents to aid in the investigation, Marianne Cayton feared a cover-up in the case “borne out of lack of any movement in so far as an investigation is concerned.”

Fortun said he still believed the investigators were doing everything “to arrive at the truth.” He added: “The only request of the San Juan and Cayton families is just to speed it up.”

“I’d like to think it was an accident and nobody wanted this,” the lawyer said. “As to whether there is someone to blame… it’s up to investigators to determine this. We hope the investigators can put things together so proper steps can be made to determine fault and avoid similar incidents in the future.”

What caused the spark?

Fortun said the Interagency Task Force investigating the case already had “evidence as to how the leak occurred, where the blast emanated and what triggered it.”

“It was only what caused that spark that led to the blast that needs to be filled up by San Juan,” Fortun said, adding a gas explosion “can be triggered by the smallest spark,” even from mere static electricity.

San Juan’s remains were to be transferred Thursday afternoon to Evergreen Memorial Parlor in Pasig City for a two-day wake. Afterward, the body will be flown to the United States for burial.

San Juan was a data architect for a car company in the United States, where his family is also based. He left behind a wife and two children.

Investigators failed to get any statement from San Juan, who was sedated throughout his hospital confinement.

Fortun debunked the theory that the leak could have come from the unit’s gas range, saying he was informed the Department of Science and Technology had conducted tests on the intact stove.

He noted that if the gas leak came from the stove, the stove would have been “shattered,” instead of sent flying upon the explosion and landing in the garden below the building.—With a report from Marlon Ramos


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Angelito San Juan , blast victim , Bonifacio Global City , Explosion , Philippines - Metro , Serendra blast , Two Serendra




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Santiago accuses Lacson of fronting for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  2. Name names, Lacson told
  3. Santiago: Enrile, Lacson, Reyes plotting massive psywar operation
  4. Slain officer’s ‘diagram’ rocks PNP
  5. Kris Aquino’s ex- close in security named new Air Force chief
  6. Ex-COA chief nabbed for plunder
  7. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  8. Obama: US will defend Japan vs China
  9. Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  10. HK apology: Why Estrada and not Aquino?
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  3. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  4. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  5. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  6. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  7. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  8. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  9. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  10. Lawyer: Napoles ‘will tell all’
  1. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  2. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  3. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  8. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  9. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  10. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
Advertisement

News

  • Obama due in Seoul as North Korea nuclear test fears grow
  • Hold departure order out vs Corona, Singson
  • Malaysia to release MH370 report–PM
  • Man found dead in Quezon City, alleged victim of summary execution–report
  • Aquino to lead Air Force turnover rites
  • Sports

  • Michael Phelps loses to Lochte in comeback meet
  • Sharapova advances to Stuttgart quarterfinals
  • Galedo caps ride of redemption
  • Beermen, Express dispute second semis slot today
  • Lady Agilas upset Lady Bulldogs in four sets
  • Lifestyle

  • ‘Recovered’ Banksy works on display ahead of sale
  • Marinduque: Visiting the ‘palm of the ocean’
  • First at Vatican in 60 years
  • How Jing Monis Salon gave Krissy the pixie
  • Want to be a supermodel? Work on your inner beauty, says Joey Espino
  • Entertainment

  • Paul McCartney to play at Candlestick concert
  • Kristoffer Martin: from thug to gay teen
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Cris Villonco on play adapted from different medium
  • Business

  • PAL hailed for ban on shark fin cargo
  • BSP to change tint of P100 bill
  • Nielsen sees car buying boom in the Philippines
  • How author of best-seller exposed ‘one percent’ economic elite
  • Bangko Sentral readies new bank lending rules
  • Technology

  • Cloud strength helps Microsoft earnings top Street
  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • Opinion

  • Editorial Cartoon, April 25, 2014
  • No deal, Janet
  • Like making Al Capone a witness vs his gang
  • MERS-CoV and mothers
  • A graduation story
  • Global Nation

  • China welcomes PH apology
  • Only 4 Etihad passengers not accounted for
  • Abandoned in Malta,15 PH seamen return
  • Senator hopes PH will also get same vow
  • HK victims to get P115M; traders raised money
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement