2 dead in Cagayan de Oro Hall of Justice fire
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—Two persons were killed—a court employee and a security guard—following the five-hour fire that razed the Hall of Justice building here.
Benjamin Buna, security guard; and court aide Jeffrey Uban, were confirmed dead in the fire, which started 9:35 p.m. Friday and was put off around 2:30 a.m. Saturday.
Earlier, city prosecutor Fidel Macauayag told reporters here on Saturday that a court employee, a security guard and a utility worker could not be accounted for in the aftermath of the fire incident.
Dick Carlo Cabanlas, the regional clerk of court, also spoke of three missing individuals.
But Cagayan de Oro fire marshall Shirley Teleron (not Tejeron) said only the bodies of Buna and Uban had been recovered.
Other sources said the third one had been accounted for and was not harmed but they did not provide any identity.
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.
Teleron 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 being conducted and arson investigators were sifting through the debris.
Macauayag admitted 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 he pitied those who were in jail because the incident would cause them more anguish.
He said the courts had to reconstruct records first before hearing resume.
“Not only for the accused but also for the plaintiff, this will surely take its toll on them,” Abundiente said.
Macauayag said reconstructing the files was a tedious process.
Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who visited the fire scene, said there was a 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. Bobby Lagsa
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