By Yas Ocampo
DAVAO CITY — Management of NCCC Mall called heroic their safety officer who saved many victims but who ultimately perished in the fire over the Christmas weekend, as the city government released more names of confirmed fatalities at dawn, Wednesday.
In a statement, the NCCC management said Melvin Gaa, their safety officer, perished doing his duty.
NCCC Mall spokesperson Thea Padua said Gaa was identified by his wife Rosela Tuesday night as one of the 36 persons recovered by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) on Monday night near the lobby of the SSI offices in the mall’s fourth floor.
The NCCC Mall management expressed its deep sympathy and gratitude to Gaa’s family, who they said was a hero who saved many victims and tried to rescue the remaining SSI employees.
Padua said Gaa was a member of the NCCC Emergency Action Team (NEAT) who had helped bring down the 83 surviving SSI employees and an estimated 700 NCCC Mall personnel and visitors who were also brought out by NEAT and the mall’s emergency fire brigade.
“Melvin had already brought down several SSI employees and was already seen having safely exited the building at the ground floor. But instead of remaining downstairs, he went upstairs again to try to save more people,” said Padua.
“We offer his family our sympathies and recognize, with the deepest gratitude, Melvin’s sacrifice,” said Padua.
As of 2:30 a.m., the city government have released the names of the 36 fatalities as determined from the bodies recovered by first responders.
Confirmed dead were Jeffrey Sismar, Mary Louielyn Bongcayao, Kurtchin Angela Bangoy, Joy Pabelonia, Christen Garzon, Jim Benedict Quimsing, Jonas Basalan, Jessica Samontina, Venus Joy Quimpo, Jimboy Limosnero, Christine Joy Ferraren, and Rosyl Montanez.
Also include Missy Rose Artiaga, Rhenzi Nova Muyco, Ivan Nebelle Roble, Elyn Joy Yorsua, Shiela Mae Bacaling, Roderick Antipuesto, Nancy Loyd Abad, Jessica Solis, Charlyn Liwaya, Regine Generales, and Gantioco Celestial.
Completing the list are Apple Jane Celades, Ian Kiem Adlawan, Lister Jade Entera, Analiza Piñajiro, Christine Alviola, Roderick Constantinopla, Dresiree Gayle Zacarias, Johani Matundo, Iana Apalacio, Maryjoy Daloro, Randy Balcao, and Janine Joy Obo.
Two, however, remain missing–SSI employees Mikko Demafeliz and Alexandra Moreno.
Some of the bodies have already been claimed, while the rest are at a funeral home waiting for proof of identification.