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DOJ finishes probe on Kentex fire, results out soon

A team from the Department of Justice (DOJ) has finished its investigation on last May's fire at a two-storey slipper factory in Valenzuela City that left 72 people dead.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima told reporters Friday that she is now reviewing the findings of the DOJ special task force formed last June to probe the incident at a factory owned by Kentex Manufacturing Corp.

"The DOJ Special Committee tasked to review the findings and recommendations of the Inter-Agency Anti-Arson Task Force (IATF) regarding Kentex fire, already submitted to me its report," said De Lima.

De Lima said the DOJ report would not be made public until next week or a week after that, because she would be leaving for the Hague on Monday to attend arbitration proceedings on the Philippines' claim over the West Philippine Sea.

The state prosecutors from the National Prosecution Service and DOJ state counsel, who composed the the task force, were earlier tasked to determine possible criminal and administrative offenses committed during the blaze.

The prosecutors and government lawyers had sought to find out if there were violations of the Revised Penal Code, the Revised Fire Code (RA 9514), the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019), the Revised Administrative Code, the Civil Service Law, the Local Government Code, and other relevant laws.

Making up the team were Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Roberto Lao, Assistant State Prosecutor Olivia Torrevillas, ASP Ma. Cristina Barot, State Counsel III Margarette Robles, SC II Consuelo Corazon Iazzuacan, and SC I Dioxenos Sulit.

In the last four weeks, the team reviewed all relevant official government reports on the incident, primarily that of the IATF, as well as that of the Department of Interior and Local Government and other relevant official reports.

The team also assessed and evaluated the available documentary, testimonial, and object evidence so far gathered in the investigation and provided by the investigating agencies to determine the sufficiency of the filing of the appropriate criminal and administrative cases.

The panel also made further inquiry from the investigating agency, specifically the IATF, on the acquisition of additional evidence necessary for the case build-up.

The team also identified the specific private individuals and public officials who shall be charged, with an enumeration of the evidence to be used for each case against each individual.

It is also the team that would decide whether cases would be filed either with the appropriate public prosecutor of the NPS or the Office of the Ombudsman or any other appropriate body. —KBK, GMA News