Smells fishy

A thorough and immediate probe called on by no less than the Caloocan chief executive, Mayor Enrico “Recom” Echiverri, over the apparently mysterious fire that razed the biggest shopping mall in the city is the most rational one can do given the damage and impact it brought particularly on small stall owners and tenants whose merchandise turned into ashes.

Never mind the owners of the 24-year-old four-storey structure, the Gotesco Investments Inc. (GII), which might be victorious in the end since it can be able to collect huge amount out of the insurance claims, that’s what some knowledgeable could say.

Pitiful are these hapless small stall owners who have been already experiencing hardships even before the Friday inferno as businesses have been gloomy nowadays, no thanks to the unabated oil price hikes which disappointingly couldn’t be at least minimized by the “noynoying,” to borrow the word from the militant groups, administration of PNoy.

To recall, it’s the second time that occurred at the mall, whose appeal to shoppers has slowly been fading out over the years, well, perhaps due to the presence of other similar establishments that sprouted along Rizal Avenue Extension and Bonifacio Monument Circle, though smaller but more fascinating and attractive to the buying public.

In 1991 when it was gutted by fire, whose extent of damage reached to P100-M, like in the latest incident its guards obviously on orders from the management had prevented firefighters from getting inside to put out the raging blaze.

Not sure about the GII’s real plan but one could surmise that it’s intentionally set for the insurance claims.

Of course, the Gotesco owners, who were said to have been already indebted, right and left, would refute it but given the continued unattractiveness of the mall to shoppers, would reveal otherwise.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo’s order, which was an apparent and immediate reply from Mayor Echiverri’ s call, seeks to find out if the firemen were really refused entry as the fire engulfed the building that lasted for nearly two days, one potential candidate for the Guin-ness Book of World Records!

As what the mayor described, it’s really strange that firemen coming from all firefighting units in Metro Manila had almost two days to completely put the flames out.

The mayor, who is also a lawyer, says a no-nonsense investigation must be made because the local government has interest in the mall since its management still owes millions of pesos in taxes to the city.

Mayor Echiverri says: “We want the angle of arson probed since the building owners can collect money through its insurance plan and at the same time evade the payment of the outstanding taxes.”

Let’s see if Robredo’s marching order can eventually find out from such possibility that the fire was indeed staged so that GII could escape its obligation.

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