TODAY IN BUKIDNON HISTORY: Eight years after Valencia fire kills Jardinico 12: Justice still elusive, “BFP remains silent”

MALAYBALAY CITY – “Justice is still elusive. The Bureau of Fire Protection has remained silent,” according to a statement from a member of the Jardinico family of Valencia City in the occasion of the eight anniversary of the fire that killed 12 members of their family.

Franciscan Bro. Jun Jardinico claimed the BFP has “remained silent to investigate” the incident.

The Jardinicos will just offer mass for their dead and for justice that they searched for so long, he added.

“I pray God will now touch the heart of all concern people in the government (agencies) to fast track the long delayed justice,” he added in a statement  to MindaNews Wednesday.

Earlier, Jardinico told this reporter there has been no motion of their case.

“Where is the government? Let the truth come out,” the Jardinico family has appealed in 2008 in an open letter to the public timed for the Christmas season as justice continue to elude them.

Franciscan Bro. Jun Jardinico, the family spokesperson, wrote in the letter that they have already rained appeals and follow ups to officials from the local up to the national government.

“But nothing had happened to our case for six years now. Where should we go for help?” he asked.

“Does this government really work for justice for the poor like my family? If they care, why until now we have not felt the comfort of justice?” he added.

Fire gutted the family’s two-storey house in downtown Valencia City on April 6, 2003, killing 12 of the Jardinicos, including their elderly mother and seven children. Several other houses were razed in the incident.

Authorities then have eyed arson and later rounded up alleged suspects. But the family, suspicious of the angle pursued, has since questioned the investigation. The Regional Trial Court dismissed the case against the suspects in November 2005.

The family has demanded a copy of the fire bureau’s investigation report, which they suspected was fraught with alleged cover-up and whitewashing over claims of conspiracy. But the fire department has refused to give the family a copy, invoking a standard procedure requiring a court order for the release.

Jardinico said they already felt frustrated and helpless.

“We are confused where to go for help. We are therefore appealing to the public to help us, the Jardinico family, to solve this barbaric killing of innocent people by fire,” the appeal said.

The public appeal came four months ahead of the sixth anniversary of the fire in April.

“Let us not wait that you or your family will be the next victim of these greedy individuals’ interests and the people in power. Let us bind together for the sake of justice in our beloved Valencia City and in our country as a whole,” the Jardinicos said in the letter.

He said years of dismay and desperation of the inaction and inability of the local government authorities to solve this heinous killings of 12 innocent lives.

The Jardinicos have described the tragedy as to have “shocked the world except the authorities of Valencia City who remained mute and deaf to our call and appeal for justice”.

The Jardinicos reiterated an appeal for former Valencia City Mayor Jose M. Galario Jr., the late Supt. Melchor R. Bedasua, Fire Marshal Franklin O. Ratunil and FO2 Rodulfo A. Bebangco.

“Give peace to the restless souls. Let the truth come out,” the family has called in their 2008 statement.

The family cited that they have also appealed to incumbent Valencia Mayor Leandro Jose H. Catarata and then Bukidnon Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. to help in the investigation.

“But until now we haven’t received any assurance of a certain direction of the case,” Jardinico said in the letter.

Jardinico said Zubiri has ordered police provincial director Noel Armilla to help the family expedite the case, but lamented that there is still no word from police and “no information received on how far the police has worked to resolve this barbaric killing of innocent lives.”

He told this reporter in an interview this week nothing has also happened when they asked help from members of the Senate and the House of Representatives to push for the investigation of the case. (Walter I. Balane)

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