Three teams have been formed to probe into the fire that destroyed the 400-year-old Parroquia de San Pedro Apostol Church in Vinzons.
By JONAS CABILES SOLTES
DAET: Daet Bishop Gilbert Garcera formed his own fact-finding team “to know the real cause” of the fire that destroyed the 400-year-old Parroquia de San Pedro Apostol Church in Vinzons, CamNorte on Dec 26, even after hearing the side of the parish priest of the burnt church.
The one formed by the diocese is the third fact-finding team organized to investigate the burning of the church built by Franciscan priests on 1611 and has since become an important historical landmark.
Earlier, the municipal government of Vinzons and the provincial government of CamNorte also conducted their own investigations.
Bishop Garcera said Fr Francisco Regala, parish priest of Vinzons, told him that faulty electrical wiring in the old convent was the cause of the fire.
“But I will wait for the official findings of the Bureau of Fire Protection,” Garcera said.
The bishop also asked Regala to submit a written “blow-by-blow” account of what happened that led to the burning of the church.
“It could be an accident. But it could have been also because of negligence,” he said.
He said his fact-finding team would also determine whether Regala had liability.
“If the cause was faulty electrical wiring, then why had no one fixed it?” he said.
On Tuesday, Garcera met townsfolk to know their sentiments.
“I have heard only the side of [Fr. Regala]. He’s the one that keeps on talking. I want to know what the people have to say,” he said.
He said he had been receiving reports that there could be foul play.
“I would know it from the people, especially if they would be consistent on what they say,” he said.
Garcera said Regala would continue performing his priestly duties but most administrative works would be taken care of by the Diocese.
He also assured parishioners that all documents were intact and safe as all records had been transferred to a new building even before the fire.
“The practice is to save the Blessed Sacrament and all the church documents in case of fire,” he said.
The old convent where the fire supposedly started did not have the records as it had been used as a stockroom for Church giveaways, he said.
Garcera said rebuilding would start when townsfolk were not anymore angry and grief-stricken.
He said he would let expert asses if what remained of the church after the fire was still structurally sound. Otherwise, the bishop said, the ruins would be condemned.
He said the church was very important because of its centuries of existence.
“It predates the devotion to Our lady of Peñafrancia, the patroness of Bicol,” he said.
The burnt church along with that of Paracale and Daet was the oldest in Camarines Norte and had remained relatively unchanged since its construction, Garcera said.
He admitted that reconstruction would take time especially because he wanted “every townsfolk to have participation on the rebuilding.”
But he said he would welcome donations, which, according to him, should be directed to him and not to the parish.
In a phone interview, Regala said he was not sure if the fire originated from faulty electrical connection in the old convent.
He said he just woke up smelling something burning, only to discover flames at the old convent.
He said he immediately rushed to the fire station of Vinzons but the firemen came late. “I was disappointed by the response,” he said. – Bicol Mail