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Saturday, August 04, 2007

 

Muntinlupa’s city hall burns down

By Jonathan M. Hicap Reporter

A fire that lasted for more than four hours gutted the main building of the Muntinlupa City hall just before noon Friday, destroying municipal documents, millions worth of office equipment and paralyzing government operations.

Employees fled from their offices when the flames started to engulf the building. Sources said the fire started from shanties at the back of the city hall. The shanties were built beside the wall that separates the city hall from the residential area.

An employee told The Manila Times the fire quickly spread to the city engineering office and to the rest of the offices at the second floor including the office of the mayor.

Mayor Aldrin San Pedro was attending an event in Alabang when the fire broke out. He wasted no time rushing to the city hall.

The mayor’s own water trucks were the first to respond to the fire, which reached general alarm. Other fire trucks from nearby areas arrived to help.

As of 4 p.m., firemen were still working to control the fire. Nobody was reported injured.

The mayor did not rule out the possibility that the fire was intentional to derail his work as the new mayor.

“It’s possible,” he said.

San Pedro marked his first month in office on Thursday since he assumed office on July 2.

He instructed authorities to investigate extensively the cause of the fire and focus on the arson angle.

The main building of the city hall housed different offices including the office of the mayor, vice-mayor’s office, engineering, personnel, budget, regional trial courts, accounting, tax and license, treasury.

Also destroyed was the Muntinlupa police station. The police had to transfer inmates to other jail facilities in the city.

Employees were baffled why the fire spread so quickly, bolstering the theory that it was arson.

San Pedro said that while the main building is being rebuilt, the city hall annex and People’s Center will be used as temporary offices.

He assured the public that the operations of the city government would normalize by next week.

   

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Severino O. Frayna Jr., Benjie Dela Rosa
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