Valenzuela City fire marshal relieved of post
The Valenzuela City fire marshal has been ordered relieved of his duties while the police and fire officials probe the factory fire in the city that killed at least 72 persons on Wednesday.
Supt. Mel Jose Lagan and Senior Insp. Ed-groover Oculam, chief of the fire safety enforcement section, were administratively relieved of their posts effective Thursday afternoon, Bureau of Fire Protection spokesperson Supt. Renato Marcial said in a text message.
The relief order came just hours after Lagan spoke in a press briefing with Valenzuela City Mayor Rexlon Gatchalian and Philippine National Police officer in charge Deputy Director Leonardo Espina at the city hall earlier on Thursday.
“It’s a normal procedure especially when there is an investigation going on which will also delve into whether or not there are some lapses committed in the performance of their duties,” Marcial said.
Defending that there was no negligence on the part of BFP, Lagan said on the televised briefing that they had regularly inspected buildings in Valenzuela.
“Hindi tayo nagpapabaya ng trabaho. Ang problema dito ‘yung pagiging compliant ng employer after natin umalis ng site … o kung ’yung tao sa loob ay more than dun sa required tao na nasa loob ng building,” he said.
Many employees of the factory owned by Kentex Manufacturing Inc. died when a massive fire razed the two-story building on Tatalon Street in Barangay (village) Ugong on Wednesday morning. The fire lasted for seven hours.
Earlier, Gatchalian, quoting investigators, said the fire could have been ignited by sparks from a welding job being undertaken at one of the main doors.
Another question the investigators need to answer, according to Lagan, is why many factory employees are trapped inside the burning rubber slippers factory despite having “sufficient exits.”
“Ang question namin bakit hindi nakalabas, sufficient naman ang exit, malalaki naman ang mga hagdanan. ‘Yun ang tinitignan namin. What happened?”
The BFP said it would also look into the records of Kentex Manufacturing Inc. and retrace their compliance with fire safety laws since it acquired its permit in 1996.
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