DAVAO CITY – The fire that gutted around 1,000 houses in the coastal communities in Quezon Boulevard late Friday night could have been caused by a drug session in one the houses that left a candle alight.
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte revealed this information on Sunday in his regular television program, though he said this has to be confirmed by ongoing investigations by police and fire bureau.
“The initial report, although they are still digging into it, is that it started in a place where there were four people shooting up shabu, and left the candle alone until it burned the whole place,” the mayor said in the vernacular.
The mayor gave this information amidst speculation that the fire was deliberately lit to cleanse the community known to be a hideout for drug users and peddlers.
Duterte said he is revealing this against the police’s wishes.
“It is what the police said, and what the deputy mayor (in the barangay) said. They wanted to keep this quiet. But this is a public issue; it may not be the whole truth but it has to come out,” Duterte said.
Davao City Police Chief Senior Superintendent Vicente Danao reportedly said the candle was thrown at a trash bin after a marijuana session in the house of oneAlyas Batchong.
The fire burned down around 1,000 houses along Barangays 21, 22 and 23-C in the area commonly known as Bucana and Isla Verde.
The City Social Services and Development Office reported that 2,245 families were left homeless and are temporarily staying in schools.
The online news Newsdesk Asia interviewed residents who said talks were rampant that a stranger was seen pouring gasoline at the back of a restaurant that started the fire.
Some residents interviewed admitted to have relatives engaged in drug use, and believed the fire was set after repeated warnings from authorities to cooperate in the city’s campaign against illegal drug use and trade.
Last year, police authorities conducted house-to-house visits called Oplan Tok-Hang in communities where they “asked” suspected drug users to stop their trade and cooperate with authorities.
The mayor has also repeatedly vented through media his ire on suspected drug traders and gangs in the said area.(davaotoday.com)