2,000 employees fear for their livelihood after GenSan mall fire

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 18, 2019   •   320

For 13 years, Joe Dayaday has been an employee of Gaisano Mall in General Santos City. This has become his source of income to help his family get by.

On Wednesday (October 16), a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck parts of Mindanao which caused a fire at Gaisano Mall.

Huge flames torched the two-hectare mall that night, illuminating the surroundings as if the sun had never set.

It took 18 hours before authorities finally declared the fire out; it was around 1:00 p.m. on Thursday (October 17).

However, the mall was again engulfed in flames on Thursday night, leaving 90 percent of the establishment damaged.

The fire left an estimated P2 billion worth of damage, and that’s not counting the loss of livelihood it has brought to around 2,000 employees in Gaisano Mall.

As authorities finally declared fire out around 10:00 p.m. that Thursday night, uncertainty filled Joe’s heart.

“Maapektuhan talaga ang trabaho namin, marami kamung nagtatrabaho dito na maapektuhan, (Our jobs will be affected, a lot of us working here will be affected)” Joe said.

Uncertainty loomed over the 2,000 employees of Gaisano Mall, among whom is Hanzel Falalimpa.

Hanzel’s husband is currently in the hospital and it is up to her to support her family including her two children.

“Ako lang talaga ang nagtatrabaho sa amin ngayon tapos may dalawang anak pa ako, (I am the only worker in the family and I have two children)” she said. She is now at a loss where to find money for their daily needs and the hospital expenses of her husband.

Meanwhile, Joe is calling out to the government for assistance.

“Ang hiling namin sa pamahalaan sana matulungan kami na makahanap ng trabaho sa ibang kumpanya, (Our wish is for the government to help us find another job in other companies)” he said.

Assistant Department Head of City Social Welfare & Development Office GenSan Arabecque Batilong assured they will provide assistance to the employees affected by the fire.

“We gathered them sa G-Mall almost 2,000 silang empleyado. Mayroong mga ibang agencies whether private or government [that are] willing to employ them (We gathered them in G-Mall, almost 2,000 employees. There are other agencies whether private or government that are willing to employ them)” he said.—AAC (with reports from Janice Ingente)

Over 200 families lost their homes in Manila fire

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 22, 2019

Over 200 families have lost their homes after a fire broke out in Sta. Cruz, Manila on Tuesday (October 22).

Based on the accounts of several residents, a power line exploded and caused a fire in their area around 12:00 p.m.

The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) said the fire quickly spread because the houses at the compound were made of light materials. They immediately raised the alarm to Task Force Bravo.

Manila Fire District District Fire Mashall F/Ssupt. Rodolfo Denaga said they find it difficult to control the fire because they couldn’t reach the base of the fire.

“Kung makita po natin, wala tayong access doon sa base of [the] fire, (If you can see, we have no access to the base of the fire)” he said. “Sa fire fighting kasi, kailangan nating ma-hit ng ating water stream iyong base of fire. So, iyon po ang problema natin, (In fire fighting, our water stream should hit the base of the fire. So, that is our problem).”

No casualties have been reported so far. However, one fireman was given first aid after getting hit by a falling object.

The victims of the fire are temporarily taking shelter at the Rizal Avenue covered court.—AAC (with reports from Asher Cadapan Jr.)

Fire displaces 700 families in Navotas

Robie de Guzman   •   October 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Hundreds of families in Navotas City have been displaced after a fire broke out in a residential area in North Bay Boulevard North early Friday morning.

The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) said the blaze erupted at past 2:00 a.m., and reached fifth alarm in just a few minutes.

The fire quickly spread and razed around 200 houses that were mostly made up of light materials.

It was declared fire out around 6 a.m.

The Navotas City Risk Reduction and Management Office said at least 700 families were affected by the fire.

The BFP is still accounting if there are fatalities or missing persons. It also has yet to determine the cause of the fire. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

Star City: We are not aware of any motive for arson

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 7, 2019

The Star City management on Sunday (October 6) said they were not aware of any motive that would “induce the commission of arson.”

This is in response to the statement of the Bureau of Fire Protection maintaining the possibility of arson in the Star City fire.

Pasay City Fire Marshall Superintendent Paul Pili said arson might be the possible cause for the rapid spread of fire at Star City on Wednesday (October 2) morning.

The BFP also found traces of gasoline in unusual places as well as the suspicious entry of unidentified personnel carrying bags of cotton.

However, in a statement, Star City officials said it is not unusual for persons to bring cotton in the establishment.

“That there were some persons that brought in cotton is NOT unusual because cotton filling is being used to stuff toys redeemed in games. In fact, most if not all of the stuffed toys are filled with cotton. Almost all theme parks, including those outside of the Philippines, sell or give as prizes, stuffed toys in the ordinary course of their business,” according to the statement.

“There is gasoline inside the Star City Complex because there is a ride that runs on gasoline particularly the Bumper Boat,” the statement further reads.

The management also said it was ‘inappropriate’ to release statements to the media first regarding arson as the cause of the fire.

“We feel that it was inappropriate, to say the least, to release statements to media first regarding arson as the cause of fire when the investigation is not clearly concluded and before taking up such matter with Star City’s Management, the principal party concerned,” according to the management.—AAC (with reports from Asher Cadapan Jr.)

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