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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A TOTAL of 24 persons were killed and almost P130-million worth of properties was damaged in 745 fire incidents in Western Visayas since January, this year.

Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) regional office records show that Negros Occidental had the most number of fires with 372, Iloilo 286, Guimaras 29, Aklan 23, Capiz 19 and Antique 16.

The biggest single fire to hit the region was in Bacolod City last November 2 which killed 17 persons, mostly children.

Defective electrical wiring is the most common cause of fires in the region, the BFP said.

Yesterday, two fires occurred in Iloilo City. The first incident happened around 3am when a blaze razed a barber shop and beauty salon in Yulo Street in the City Proper district. A faulty electrical wire is believed to be the cause of the fire which started in the ceiling of the barber shop, initial BFP reports said. Around 9am also yesterday, a fire also blamed to a faulty electrical wiring burned a house on 7th Street, Lawaan Village, at Brgy. Balantang, Jaro district. Damage was placed at P100,000

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Two motives eyed in del Castillo slay;

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

PERSONAL grudge and his work as Iloilo provincial fire marshal are two of the possible motives seen by the police in the murder of Supt. Casiano del Castillo in Arevalo, Iloilo City Friday last week.

 

This, even as the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) claimed they have identified the triggerman who shot del Castillo five times resulting in his death.

 

Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, ICPO director, said witnesses were able to identify the gunman through his picture.

 

Tobias refused to name the suspect although he said the gunman is a native of Iloilo province.

 

The ICPO chief said they looking into del Castillo’s work at the Bureau of Fire Prevention and previous disputes to determine the motive for his assassination.

 

“We are carefully eliminating other motives and we are now focusing on these two angles,” he added.

 

In several radio interviews, the victim’s wife Rose del Castillo told her about his falling out with a colleague although she did not elaborate.

 

Rose said her husband advised them to be careful after receiving death threats days before he was gunned down.

 

Del Castillo was walking to their home at Landheights Subdivision in Arevalo district when two motorcycle persons waylaid him with a caliber .45 pistol. The victim died at the Saviour International Hospital in Mandurriao district.

 

The victim recently exposed several anomalies at the BFP, particularly missing high-powered firearms, repair of fire trucks sans competitive bidding and questionable recruitment of firefighters.

 

Del Castillo traced the alleged anomalies to his predecessor, former provincial fire marshal Edga Gimotea, who also happens to be his wedding godfather.

 

In the middle of exposé, del Castillo criticized Gimotea for allegedly maintaining a lending business inside the BFP regional office in Aduana Street, Iloilo City proper.

 

The word war prompted Gimotea to file perjury cases against del Castillo.

 

Before he was shot last week, del Castillo went to the Iloilo Hall of Justice to file his counter affidavit to the perjury case.

 

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. said he also received last August 19 a letter from Gimotea detailing his dispute with del Castillo.

 

Gonzalez said he is willing to order the National Bureau of Investigation to probe del Castillo’s death if the latter’s family seeks his help.

 

The Bureau of Fire Prevention has condemned del Castillo’s murder.

 

Fire Sr. Inspector Bartolome Billaran said they were shocked with the incident even as they assured to help their fallen colleague’s family.

HIRED KILLERS

Tobias said it is possible that the suspects in del Castillo’s death are hired killers.

 

This piece of information jived with the investigation of the Jaro police that paid assassins gunned down Edgar Pedrajas a week ago. Pedrajas is a relative of a suspected drug lord allegedly operating in Iloilo City.

 

According to the Jaro police, the gunmen stayed and planned the killing in a house in Iloilo City.

 

Tobias said they also received reports of the purported team of assassins in Iloilo City although he allayed fears raised on their presence and the series of killings.

 

The AFP also released reports that sparrow hit men of the New People’s Army were spotted in Arevalo plaza, not far from the area where del Castillo was killed.

 

Tobias said the whole ICPO force is on alert against any incursions by the assassins spotted in the city.

 

Since he assumed the ICPO helm, Tobias was confronted by a series of killings including the case of American Daniel John Chabra, Pedrajas and del Castillo.

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