Immigration Inferno

The below is “Fake News” but the storyline has the potential to turn into a reality unless the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) acts immediately….

Fire in

Bicutan jail kills 72 foreigners

Seventy-two foreigners including Japanese, Chinese, American and European Nationals died in a fire last night in the infamous Immigration Detention Facility in Upper Bicutan. Seventy-five other foreigners suffered burns and smoke inhalation, twenty remain critical in hospital.

The fire took hold on the lower floor of building A seemingly fueled by gas bottles and oil and quickly engulfed the building. Flames were seen to spread rapidly across the plastic covered area to Building B where a further 75 detainees were trapped.

Questions are already being asked as to why each two storey building had only one exit padlocked from the outside. The detainees were seen to be crushed up against the locked bars. The guards claim they could not reach the door to unlock it because they were beaten back by the flames and heat and burning plastic raining down from covered area.

Governments around the world condemn Immigration and Fire Chiefs

China and Japan have joined with the United States, British and European Governments in demanding a full investigation into the fire last Tuesday in the notorious Immigration detention facility in Manila. They are demanding to know how their nationals could have been held in buildings dating back to the Marcos era of the disappeared which early reports say were dangerously overcrowded and unsafe. It is believed that the buildings violated many of the basic fire safety codes including only having one exit per building and that this was the major cause of the high death toll.

Questions are already being asked as to which authority was responsible for issuing permits when the facility was in clear violation of the fire codes. China and Japan are the latest countries to demand that those responsible are brought to justice.
Immigration hold at least 150 and up to 230 people at any time, sometimes for many years.
Almost all detainees are housed to two identical buildings that face each other across a small enclosed and covered yard area between them. Each building has two floors, a single stair-well and a single exit opening (inwards) to the enclosed shared yard. Each building has bed-space for seventy-two but the occupancy is often far higher.

The facility buildings are old barracks leased from the PNP.
None of the admin offices display any of the required Business or Mayor’s permits, or a Permit to Operate and it seems unlikely that the facility ever had the necessary change of use to detention occupancy or underwent either of the obligatory “A Fire and Life Safety Assessment Report (FALAR)” or ever had “A Fire Safety Inspection Certificate (FSIC)”.

If the premises had been inspected they would certainly have failed due to very major non-compliance some of which are detailed below.

Referring to the Fire Code of the Philippines 2008 IRR, Division 11 Condition V – Contained.

– None of the sleeping quarters comply to and are not constructed of materials that comply, doors do not comply, internal finishes do not comply, nor do floor coverings.
– Electrical wiring does not comply.
– No sprinklers or smoke detectors or fire alarms.
– No hoses, reels, hydrants or adequate water supply in case of fire.
– Kitchen areas do not comply.
– No storage for hazardous materials.

– Stairwells unprotected.
– No fire or smoke doors.
– One only portable fire extinguisher per building, improperly located or maintained
– No emergency lighting egress
– No refuges.
– Only one means of egress to each building, none to the upper floors. [Code requires two means of egress to each floor].
– Discharge from the only Exits do not comply. [Code requires 15 m clear distance from the point of egress to the enclosed yard, however the separation of two buildings is only 10 m. (Yard size 20 m x 10 m). Additionally the enclosed yard is largely covered with a non compliant roofing of plastic sheeting that makes the yard hazardous in the event of a fire in either building.
On behalf of the detainees that we represent we demand that BIWPF be comprehensively inspected and ordered to comply with the requirements of the Code Division 11 Condition V – Contained, FALAR, and FSIC, or that the detainees are re-housed in facilities that do comply with the Code

, before an untoward incident occurs….

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