The Sandiganbayan dismissed the charges filed against Valenzuela Mayor Rexlon Gatchalian and two others for allegedly allowing Kentex Manufacturing Corp. to continue operating with “inadequate” fire safety measures.
The Office of the Ombudsman filed graft charges as well as a complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicides and physical injuries against Gatchalian, Renchi May Padayao and Eduardo Carreon, former officers of the Business Permits and Licensing Office.
“It does not appear that accused were involved in the incident which caused the fire. There is no direct causal connection between the fire and the damage incurred and the acts supposedly committed by accused. Again, the only fault attributed to accused is the issuance of the business permits without the required FSIC (Fire Safety Inspection Certificate,” the anti-graft court’s Second Division said.
“Wherefore in light of the foregoing, the Court hereby finds that no probable cause exists for the issuance of warrants of arrest against accused Rex T. Gatchalian, Renchi May Padayao, and Eduardo Carreon…and accordingly dismisses the instant cases,” it added.
Gatchalian, Padayao, and Carreon were charged over the issuance of business permits to Kentex in 2014 and 2015.
Gatchalian’s camp earlier argued that the mayor merely implemented the procedure provided by Valenzuela City Ordinance No. 62 on the issuance of business permits.
The ordinance allows the issuance of business permits prior to requiring an FSIC.
In May last year, a huge fire that hit the firm’s footwear factory left over 70 workers dead.
Ong King Guan a.k.a Terence King Ong, former general manager and treasurer of Kentex was named as respondent. Also charged were former city fire marshall Mel Jose Lagan, former senior fire inspector Edgrover Oculam, and former senior fire officer II Rolando Avendan of the Bureau of Fire Protection-Valenzuela City.