President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday vowed that the truth will come out regarding the deaths of 37 people in a shopping mall fire in Davao City two days before Christmas.
Duterte, who was a former mayor of the city, relayed the news on the recovery of the 36 fatalities to the bereaved families.
Authorities said most bodies are identified as call center agents.
“So what is there to talk about the sunog [fire]? What I assured them is that the truth will — Let the truth come out,” Duterte told reporters.
“I was the one who broke the news to them. Kasi [Because] Inday begged off. Sabi niya [She told me], ‘Hindi ko kaya [I can’t do it], Pa [father].’ Eh sanay naman ako sa ganito [And I am used to these kinds of situations],” the president said, pertaining to his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Duterte also assured that the local government would extend aid to the families of the victims.
“That’s what they are after, too. And maybe the compensation and the expenses are answered. But me, I already committed that government is willing to chip in,” Duterte said in mix Filipino and English.
He also suggested that the bodies be cremated.
Earlier, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Monday instructed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct an investigation on the fatal fire.
“The loss of lives and the resulting damage caused underscore the need to determine if someone is at fault and should be held criminally liable,” Aguirre said in a statement.
“By punishing those responsible, we can set an example to others so that, hopefully, there will be no repetition of these tragedies,” the secretary added.
Authorities said the blaze at the New City Commercial Center mall started at about past 9 in the morning of December 23 at the furniture area on the third floor.