Mar 18, 2020 @ 13:56

CA junks Iglesia appeal to wash hands of fence collapse that killed, injured construction workers

CA junks Iglesia appeal to wash hands of fence collapse that killed, injured construction workers

The Court of Appeals (CA) has denied the appeal of politically influential sect Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) seeking to avoid liability for the collapse of an illegally-built adobe perimeter fence that killed a construction worker and injured two others in 2014.

In a recent 2-page resolution, the CA Former 9th Division sustained its July 17, 2019 decision ordering INC to pay a total of P260,000 in damages and P50,000 in attorney’s fees as a result of its “negligence.”

“The issues raised in the instant motion are but mere reiterations of the grounds already judiciously evaluated and passed upon in Our aforementioned Decision. We, therefore, find no compelling reason to modify or reverse the same,” read the resolution penned by Associate Justice Ramon Garcia.

The case concerned the July 16, 2014 incident in which a portion of the fence surrounding an INC church along Chipeco Avenue in Calamba City, Laguna, gave out because of the heavy rain and strong wind brought by typhoon “Glenda.”

The fence crashed down on the temporary barracks in which INC’s construction workers slept. Laborers Justine Calabit and Lino Bardon died, while Jairo Calabit and Luisito Ogania were injured.

The Calamba City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 34 awarded P150,000 to Justine’s father Danilo and P55,000 each to Jairo’s mother Jesusa and Ogania. It granted INC’s motion to dismiss the case over Bardon’s death since his family failed to appear in the pretrial conference.

The CA affirmed the trial court’s judgment. It said INC did not even bother to secure a fencing permit from the city’s Office of the Building Official in violation of Section 301 of the National Building Code of the Philippines. The fence was also shoddy, because it had no lintel beam to keep material above from crashing down and the height of its column was inadequate.

While INC tried to blame the typhoon, the CA said: “In order for a fortuitous event to exempt one from liability, it is necessary that he has committed no negligence or conduct that may have occasioned the loss.” #

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