By Joseph Almer Pedrajas
The management of the Star City Complex is willing to release its financial report to prove that it was not financially in trouble to refute claims that the fire which gutted the amusement park was deliberately set off to facilitate any insurance claim.
In an interview with The Manila Bulletin, Star Parks spokesman Ed de Leon said that once “official result from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) regarding the incident is released,” they are prepared, if asked, to show documents that will prove that what “they are earning much bigger than the insurance claim that they will get.”
“Go to Pasay City government and the Bureau of Internal Revenue and see how much tax we are paying. That alone is sufficient that we are making money,” he explained.
“Star City is not losing money. In fact, during this [Christmas] season we are expecting to make more money,” he added.
De Leon said that they will start taking legal action regarding the incident only after the BFP has officially released their investigation result.
Right now, he added, the motive that arson caused the four-hour blaze that struck the 3.5-hectare amusement park was “premature” and just “hearsay.”
“They accused us… Where’s the burden of proof?” he asked.
On Sunday, the fire bureau of Pasay City ruled out the possibility of electrical fault, and focused their investigation on arson as cause of the fire.
This came after Pasay City Fire Marshal Supt. Paul Pili said that electricity was shut off when the incident happened and that investigators saw “gasoline in an area where there should not be.
However, De Leon stressed that Star City “could not possibly shut off its electricity completely” as there were lights inside, as well as refrigerators that were needed for the Snow World’s ice blocks.
De Leon also said that the gasoline that investigators cited was from “machines at the amusement park that were being operated by gas,” including bumper boats.
The fire bureau, in an interview with reporters, also said that they were eyeing a certain Mr. Wong as a person of interest behind the incident as he and his men who did not log on the logbook “brought in cotton” inside the park
But De Leon said that Mr. Wong was expected to bring cottons as they would use it for stuffed toy prizes of Star Games, which he owned.
De Leon also lamented that since the investigation on the incident began, the BFP has “never reached out” to the management and there has been “no official communication” between the fire bureau and Star City.
“Until now, we have not been able to get inside,” he said.
The fire started Wednesday, October 2, at 12:31 a.m. and reached Task Force Bravo by 2:25 a.m. Cost of damage being pegged at P1 billion. It was placed under control at 4:30 p.m.
The adjacent Manila Broadcasting Company (MBC)—which owns radio stations DZAR, Love Radio, Yes the Best! and Easy Rock—and Aliw Theater were also gutted.
Since the incident, operation at the amusement park was temporarily ceased.
But De Leon assured that affected employees, including their concerns on their 13th month pay, will be accounted for, as Star City will comply with the law.
De Leon also assured that once rehabilitation of the amusement park begins, which will start once the investigation is completed, they will not get other workers but only their employees who are willing to do construction jobs.
On Tuesday, Oct. 8, the Pasay City BFP turned over the investigation on the incident to the BFP-NCR.
The transfer is indicated in the BFP Operational Procedures Manual under Determining Responsibility and Liability which mentions that Investigation and Intelligence Division of BFP National Headquarters shall have the authority to investigate fire incident cases with incurred damages in the aggregate amount of P60 million and above.