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Philippines Suspends US Firm, Mall Operator After Deadly Fire

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Harbor square in Manila by night

Manila's harbor square by night. Photo: Vanessa David.

The Philippines has suspended an American firm and the operator of a Davao City shopping mall, where a blaze killed 38 people last month, because the companies failed to meet fire-safety standards over several years, a government official said Wednesday.

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) “has suspended the registrations” of SSI Philippines and the New City Commercial Complex (NCCC) mall in southern Davao City, after an investigation found that both “did not comply with certain fire-safety requirements since 2013,” said Charito Plaza, the agency’s director-general.

PEZA did not say whether charges would be filed, although the Justice Department had said earlier that it was also looking into whether both firms were criminally culpable in the fire.

The death toll from the fire, which broke out over the Christmas holiday weekend, included 37 employees of a call center operated in the NCCC mall by Research Now SSI, a Texas-based firm that specializes in digital research data.

The fire tore through the mall on Dec. 23 and raged for nearly two days before firefighters put it out on Christmas Day. The bodies of the 37 SSI employees were later found charred beyond recognition. The body of a 38th victim – a mall employee – was recovered earlier during the holiday weekend.

Both firms had failed to furnish PEZA with their latest preventive maintenance record, including fire extinguishers, emergency lights and alarm systems, Plaza said.

“They also missed the conduct of fire exit drills which should have been done twice a year, where employees are trained to use fire extinguishers and perform evacuation drills,” Plaza said, adding that the firms were not issued “fire inspection certificates” from 2013 through 2017.

Full story: BenarNews

Dennis Jay Santos
Davao City, Philippines. BenarNews staff in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright ©2017, BenarNews. Used with the permission of BenarNews.

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