CDO courts hearing raps vs Iligan City Mayor, Aman scam razed by fire
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – At least three persons – a court employee, a security guard, and a utility worker – remained missing following the five-hour fire that razed the Hall of Justice building here.
The fire, which started 9:35 p.m. Friday, was put off around 2:30 a.m. Saturday.
City Prosecutor Fidel Macauayag told reporters here on Saturday that a court employee was working overtime when the incident broke. A security guard and a utility worker were in the building when the fire started, he said.
But Macauyag declined to speculate, saying the three – whose identities he did not divulge – were being considered missing.
Dick Carlo Cabanlas, the Regional Clerk of Court, also spoke of three missing individuals.
The two-story Hall of Justice here, which housed 28 courts, the city prosecutors office and the Misamis Oriental provincial prosecutors office, was where various pieces of evidence – including explosives – were being kept.
Cagayan de Oro Fire Marshall Shirley Tejeron said the explosions, caused by the pieces of bomb and ammunitions kept at the evidence rooms, made it difficult for firemen to penetrate the building.
“It was too risky for our firemen to enter the building at the height of the fire,” Fire Insp. Arnold Lagbas said.
He said the fire raged amid efforts from fire engines to put it off because of incendiary materials such as paper and other materials.
“This was really a fire hazard place because every time we come here, there were papers all over the place, these fed the blaze,” Lagbas said.
Lagbas said an investigation was still to be conducted because they have not started sifting through the debris yet as of Saturday morning.
He said they were waiting for the fire to be totally put off before they started digging through.
Macauyag said they were hoping that the missing persons were all safe even as none of them have shown up yet.
Macauayag also admitted that the fire incident would delay the hearings of cases being tackled by various courts here.
Among them was the Belmonte slay case against Iligan City Mayor Celso Regencia and 14 other suspects and those that pertain to the Aman scam.
Judge Arthur Abundiente of RTC Branch 25 said that he pity those who are in jail because the incident will cause them more anguish.
He said the courts had to reconstruct records first before hearings resume.
“Not only for the accused but also for the plaintiff, this will surely take its toll on them,” Abundiente said.
Macauyag said reconstructing files was a tedious process.
Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Representative Rufus Rodriguez, who visited the fire scene, said there was need first to find buildings that could be rented as temporary offices and trial venues.
“We need to start finding one as soon as Monday so we can move with the reconstituting of the cases,” Rodriguez said.
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