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Mayor confirms arson in Minglanilla courthouse fire incident

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - CDN Digital Correspondent | December 12,2023 - 07:36 PM

Fire in Minglanilla courthouse was arson, mayor says

A fire broke out on the second floor of the building that houses the Minglanilla Trial Court on December 12, 2023 | Photo from Minglanilla Mayor Rajiv Enad

CEBU CITY, Philippines – The fire that burned down a trial court in Minglanilla town in southern Cebu on Tuesday, December 12, was intentional.

This was confirmed by Minglanilla Mayor Rajiv Enad, who also revealed that the alleged arsonist, identified as Jose Mesa Agusto, and a court employee died in the incident.

Minglanilla police investigations revealed that Agusto, 60, had reportedly been burning several documents underneath his desk shortly before the fire broke out. However, his motive remains undetermined.

Judge Wilson Ibones of the Minglanilla Trial Court observed Agusto’s actions, prompting him to instruct another court employee, Darwin Rondina, to reprimand his co-worker.

Agusto, however, defied the judge’s orders and used a fluorescent bulb to attack Rondina, also allegedly assaulting Ibones and other court employees.

Meanwhile, the fire quickly spread around the courthouse. Some court personnel attempted to exit, but Agusto reportedly locked the door, preventing their escape.

“Nagsininggitay ang mga empleyado ug nanagan padung sa pultahan, apan wala sila kagawas kay gi-lock kini ni Agusto,” Enad explained.

Jay Arvin Pasadas, a Minglanilla Traffic Committee (Mitcom) personnel, noticed black smoke emanating from the trial court building.

He also heard shouts for help and observed hands waving from the second-floor window. Responding swiftly, Pasadas entered the building to rescue the trapped court personnel. He had to forcefully kick the door leading to the second floor and the main door of the trial court multiple times.

“Sa dihang na-abli ang pultahan, nahagba padung kaniya si Ibones nga matod pa niya wala nay umoy,” Enad recounted.

All court personnel, including Ibones and Agusto, were promptly taken to nearby hospitals after sustaining multiple burn wounds. Unfortunately, Agusto did not survive. Physicians at the Minglanilla District Hospital declared him dead on arrival.

Firefighters in Minglanilla received the fire alarm at 12:05 p.m., escalating it to the fourth alarm and placed it under control at 12:40 p.m.

The fireout was officially declared at 12:55 p.m. Besides the courthouse, other government offices were also damaged in the fire.


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TAGS: Cebu Daily News, Cebu fire, cebu news, Cebu province, fire, Minglanilla

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