Valenzuela fire execs want Kentex raps junked
After Valenzuela Mayor Rexlon Gatchalian successfully petitioned the court to throw out the charges against him over the 2015 Kentex fire which killed 74 people, the city’s fire officials have followed suit.
In a nine-page motion, Valenzuela City fire marshal Supt. Mel Jose Lagan and Insp. Edgrover Oculam invoked jurisdictional grounds in asking the Sandiganbayan Second Division to quash their case of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicides and physical injuries.
Lagan and Oculam argued that because the charges against Gatchalian and two Business Permits and Licensing Office (BPLO) executives were thrown out on Dec. 13, the antigraft court had no jurisdiction over them anymore.
They pointed out in their motion that the highest ranking official in the case was now Lagan, who has a salary grade of 25, below the court’s threshold of salary grade 27.
“Hence, with the dropping of accused Mayor Gatchalian from the instant case, it necessarily follows that this honorable court loses jurisdiction over the other remaining accused,” their motion read.
At the same time, the two also argued that their alleged criminal neglect was “not the proximate cause” of the fire.
“There is no causal connection between the fire on one hand and accused Lagan’s alleged failure to impose sanctions and accused Oculam’s inaccurate inspection reports on the other,” they said.
They added that it was the “welding flux” that directly ignited the blaze at the factory.
Gatchalian and the BPLO officials were earlier cleared of reckless imprudence charges since their issuance of a business permit despite the lack of a fire safety inspection certificate did not directly cause the fire.
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