Fire and police authorities are looking into the possibility of arson as cause behind the blaze which erupted in the wee hours of Friday, killing a family of three persons and displacing over 300 residents in Tagbilaran City.
According to Fire Inspector Brad Pitt Lopez of the Tagbilaran City Fire Station, they are not discounting the arson angle amid reports from some residents that the seaside shanty area in Barangay Poblacion II was intentionally set on fire.
“We are looking at all angles regarding this matter and all of these are being considered in the initial investigation, collection of evidence and statements from our victims. Once we get the concrete evidence, we will make the final conclusion on this case,” said Lopez.
Three individuals have been tagged as “persons of interest” behind the possible arson.
According to Tagbilaran City Mayor Jane Yap, the individuals have already been identified but authorities still lack concrete evidence to implicate them as arson suspects.
Yap however did not divulge their identities so as not to jeopardize the police’s ongoing probe.
Authorities continued to gather evidence including closed-circuit television camera (CCTV) footage taken from establishments located near the razed neighborhood.
“They have been identified. They have been located, and they are closely working with the investigation. We need to monitor them 24-7 and we also need hard evidence like CCTVs, pictures of their location within the period na nahitabo ang sunog,” said Yap.
Meanwhile, the Tagbilaran City Police Station started to conduct investigations and question the said persons of interest.
Deputy chief Lt. Justeofino Hinlayagan said the individuals have been cooperating with the police.
“Sa pag conduct og investigation ug interview sa atong mga field investigators, they are willing to give information,” said Hinlayagan.
In in interview over station dyRD, one of the victims of the fire, Ken Requeron, alleged that a man who he did not publicly name had previously threatened to burn down the small community.
Requeron, a longtime member of Rep. Edgar Chatto’s staff, said the person had been staying in the house where the fire originated.
“Kadtong maong tawhana miingon diha daplin sa kalsada duol sa Lite Port na maabo kuno ming tanan. Gatuo ang among mga silingan na komedya ra kini,” he said.
Hinlayagan confirmed that they have indeed received reports from residents indicating that a man had indeed threatened to burn down the neighborhood.
However, he noted that so far they only have circumstantial evidence to back the claims.
Investigators continued to gather testimonies from several other residents in the ill-fated neighborhood.
“Padayon ta og pag gather og circumstantial evidence para ma tugma-tugma nato ang mga dots to identify unsa ang real na pangahitabo,” he added.