Search for missing man continues
Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - February 19, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The search for Gerick Gestopa, the 21 year-old man with special needs who was believed to have been trapped inside their house during a fire in Mandaue City Monday dawn, continues 48 hours after the tragic incident that killed a retired judge and his wife.

Mandaue City Fire Station chief investigator Senior Fire Officer 2 Edgar Vergara said they will not consider Gerick a fatality until his remains are found. Vergara said they are hoping that Gerick is still alive.

 “As of now wala pa gyud mi nakadawat og report nga nakit-an na si Gerick. Wala pa sad nakit-an ang iyang charred body assuming nga naapil siya sa sunog. We can only hope nga buhi pa siya basin naka ambak to sa pikas wall ug naluwas ra,” said Vergara.

Gerick was reportedly trapped inside their house when the fire broke out prompting his grandparents, retired judge Gerardo Gestopa and wife, Louella, to comeback to save him.

The charred remains of the couple were later found under the debris of their gutted house.

Vergara said they would once again resume the search and retrieval operation in the fire scene with the help of K-9 units that the Gestopa family requested from other law enforcement units

Meanwhile, debris samples were collected yesterday from the house where the fire allegedly started. The samples will be sent to Manila for laboratory analysis to determine the cause of the fire.

“Amoa nang gipadala sa buhatan namo sa Manila ang mga ashes sa debris sa balay kung asa nagsugod ang sunog aron sa pagsusi kung gituyo ba kini ug aron mahibaw-an nato unsay cause sa sunog,” Vergara told The Freeman.

The fire has affected a total of 209 individuals or 70 families. Based on the records from the social welfare office of Mandaue City, there were 44 renters and 26 house owners.   A total of 17 houses were totally razed to the ground while nine were partially damaged. The fire department pegged the damage at P185,000.

Lawyer John Eddu Ibañez, chief of staff of Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes, said the fire victims including the 200 families from the fire in Barangay Tabok will be provided meals by the city government for three days.

The city government is also giving them financial assistance aside from housing materials.  FPL (FREEMAN)

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