NBI: Concert handlers to be charged for negligence if…
THE NATIONAL Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will sue the organizers and security personnel of the May 21 open-air concert in Pasay City for “criminal negligence” if evidence shows that the deaths of five partygoers were caused by illegal drugs smuggled into the venue.
“Somebody must be held responsible. Should we just forget that people died there?” NBI Director Virgilio Mendez said in an interview Monday.
“Once established that there was laxity or negligence on the part of the (organizers), just like what happened in the ABS-CBN stampede, we will file charges for criminal negligence,” he said.
Mendez was referring to the stampede that marred an episode of “Wowowee” TV game show on Feb. 4, 2006, at Philsports Stadium in Pasig City, where 73 people were crushed to death while about 400 others were injured.
The NBI chief clarified that the case that may be filed against the organizers would be for the deaths and not for the presence of drugs at the event.
Citing initial reports by the NBI Forensic Division as well as autopsy findings on two of the victims, Mendez said that, if indeed drugs were the cause, he wanted to know how they were smuggled into the venue.
“That’s one of the issues now being looked into, and based on the arrest made by Attorney Tovera’s guys, there was one who seemed to have brought drugs into the concert.”
On Saturday, NBI Anti-Illegal Drugs Division chief Joel Tovera announced the arrest of Joshua Habalo, one of the alleged suppliers who sold drugs at the CloseUp Forever Summer concert held at the SM Mall of Asia grounds.
“It’s part of (the organizers’) responsibility to ensure that nothing untoward happens. How did the drugs get in? How do you explain that? Did they have any measures to prevent the entry of drugs?’’
The NBI deputy director for investigative services, Ed Villarta, said the bureau had subpoenaed the organizer’s security team, the paramedics, and those in charge of drug sniffing dogs at the concert.
The NBI will check whether the security deployment plan submitted by Eventscape Manila, one of the organizers, was actually implemented at the event.
The Inquirer last week reported that based on the plan submitted to the NBI, 442 security personnel—including 100 uniformed policemen, 235 bouncers, 10 plainclothesmen, and teams of drug-sniffing dogs—were deployed.
Reached for comment regarding the NBI director’s statements, Ed Sunico, spokesperson for the Closeup Forever Summer Concert, issued the following statement Monday night:
”The Closeup management team is deeply saddened by the events that took place at the Forever Summer music festival. We extend our deepest sympathies to all those affected, and will continue to offer our support in any way we can.
Safety and security have always been our number one priority, and as such significant precautions were put in place throughout the festival.
We are committed to working with the authorities on the investigation, which is ongoing. As such, it would be inappropriate for us to speculate on its outcome.”
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