Sandiganbayan convicts 9 over Ozone disco tragedy
MANILA, Philippines–The Sandiganbayan convicted seven former Quezon City officials and two businessmen of graft for failing to detect the structural deficiencies of the Ozone Dance Club, which was razed in a fire that claimed 162 lives almost two decades ago.
Dubbed the country’s “worst fire” incident in history, the Ozone Dance Club was gutted on March 19, 1996 supposedly due to electrical deficiencies. At least 162 persons in the club were killed while 93 were injured.
The court found guilty beyond reasonable doubt the following former officials of the Quezon City Engineering office for violating Section 3(e) of the anti-graft law for granting undue preference to Westwood Entertainment Company, which owned the ill-fated club:
Donato Rivera Jr.
Petronillo De Llamas
The court said these engineering officials granted building permits to Westwood without inspecting the dance club for structural deficiencies.
Hermilio Ocampo and Ramon Ng, Westwood stockholders and directors, were also found guilty.
They were ordered imprisoned for a minimum of six years and one month to maximum of 10 years.
Meanwhile, the court acquitted Westwood’s Rosita Ku, Sunny Ku and Alfredo Chua from the charges.
The court also issued a warrant of arrest against another engineer Renato Diaz, who remains at large.
“Dubbed as the worst fire in Philippine history, which claimed many young lives and several others, the ash and soot of what remained of the structure once known as the Ozone Dance Club led to questions and subsequent investigations of its structural integrity and fire safety measures,” the court’s ruling read.
The accused may appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.