BFP-6 rules arson in Molo fire


By Jennifer P. Rendon

‘Twas intentional.

The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP)-Region 6 has concluded that the Dec. 16 early morning conflagration in Molo, Iloilo was arson.

Fire Chief Superintendent Jerry Candido, BFP-6 regional director, said that the multiple origins of the fire are enough prima facie evidence to declare that the fire was intentional and not accidental.

But as to the person responsible for it, “I could not discuss that for now. It might jeopardize our ongoing investigation,” Candido said.

The fire claimed the lives of Elizabeth Jetano, a 65-year-old three-time stroke survivor; her son Niel, 27; and Niel’s son, 10-year-old Rain Gabriel.

Candido said that they will not discuss anything that might give a hint on the suspect’s identity, as it might put to waste what they have worked for, so far.

“As a lawyer, I want to have evidence that could really pin down the suspect or suspects. I don’t want to drag anyone without sufficient evidence,” he said.

Arson is one of the hardest crimes to prove. Thus, investigators are careful in handling evidence, he added.

Candido said they have gathered several testimonies but those are deemed as circumstantial evidence.

“For now, there’s no direct testimony that can certainly point to the suspect or suspects,” he said.

Thus, the importance of other physical evidence.

Candido said the family has already agreed on an autopsy which was scheduled on Tuesday (Dec. 19).

“The result of the testimony could reinforce our investigation if the victims died due to other causes than suffocation or burn injuries,” he said.

Meanwhile, burn debris from the scene was sent to the BFP national headquarters to ascertain what was used in probably setting the house on fire.

Candido said their IT expert is also looking at the possibility of retrieving the soft copy of the CCTV footage at the victims’ house,

It can be noted that 65 houses were burned following a fire that was reported at 4:29 a.m. on Saturday at Zone 3, Barangay Salvacion Habog Habog, Molo.

Initial probe showed that the fire originated from the Jetanos and quickly spread to adjacent houses and business and education structures.

Damage to property is pegged at P6,664,000.

Even earlier, Candido already hinted at possible arson after personally investigating the scene and found at least four points of origin, which are all near the floor.