• VACC fears cover up on Serendra blast probe

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    AN Anti-crime advocacy group on Sunday raised concerns over the slow pace of the investigation on the Serendra explosion on Friday, saying that the delay could pave the way for a cover up.

    Dante Jimenez, founding chairperson of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), also criticized President Benigno Aquino 3rd for his lack of political will to solve crimes and ensure the safety of the public.

    Jimenez said that the failure of authorities to immediately come up with their findings on the explosion is making people suspicious, considering that an influential family owns the property.

    “We are hoping for an immediate resolution of this case, we don’t want this case to suffer the same fate as the Glorietta blast,” Jimenez stressed.

    The VACC head was referring to the Glorietta 2 explosion in 2007 that left 11 people killed and more than 100 wounded. The establishment is being operated by the Ayala Land.

    “Now we have another incident wherein Ayala Land is again involved, I hope there will be no cover up,” the anti-crime advocate added.

    The government, Jimenez said, should also allow other investigating bodies to probe the incident.

    Not ruling out anything
    Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas revealed over the weekend that investigators have not found any evidence that the said explosion was caused by a bomb.

    He said that the cause of the explosion remains unknown.

    Investigators from the Scene of the Crime Operation (SOCO) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) on Saturday morning combed through the building using three teams of bomb-sniffing dogs.

    “The dogs did not detect fumes originating from a bomb. They would bark when they smell something, they did not do so,” Roxas told reporters in a mid-morning briefing in Taguig City.

    However, Roxas said that investigators have not ruled out anything yet.

    “Bomb ba ito [Is this a bomb or] gas leak [or]chemical explosion, we cannot say for sure,” he said.

    Evidence gathering
    Roxas also reported that investigators are adopting the process of elimination in conducting the investigation and that all possible angles are being studied.

    “They are concentrating on the pipes or cables, they are adopting one by one causes of elimination to know the sequence of events when the explosion happened,” he added.

    Investigators on Sunday resumed their search for forensic evidence after they temporarily stopped on Saturday due to darkness.

    “It’s better to analyze the blast site when there is light,” Roxas said.

    Meanwhile, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Leonardo Espina on Sunday said that investigators have already gathered the sworn statements of several witnesses and secured the close circuit television footage at the Serendra II condominium for analysis.

    Narrative timeline
    Roxas, moreover, said that investigators also started taking the statements of occupants of the third and fifth floors of Serendra II.

    He explained that their statements are being sought to help police establish a “narrative timeline.”

    The Interior secretary said investigators are also set to ask the tenant and owner of the unit where the explosion happened and their neighbors to know the circumstances prior to the incident.

    He said that Angelito San Juan, the occupant of Unit 501B will also be questioned once he is out of the hospital.

    San Juan is in stable condition but remains in the intensive care at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Global City, Taguig.

    He had complained to the building administrator that he was “suffocating” inside the apartment despite having the air-conditioning unit on.

    Three people were killed and five other were wounded in the explosion.

    WITH REPORTS FROM JING VILLAMENTE AND WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL

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