Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has ordered an investigation into media reports that arson may have caused the pre-dawn fire that gutted the Land Management Bureau (LMB) building in Binondo, Manila last Monday.

“While we hope that this is not the case, arson is a serious crime and the LMB fire significantly impacts Filipinos who place premium value on land,” Cimatu said.

LMB is a staff bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Cimatu said that DENR and LMB officials would work closely with investigators from the National Bureau of Investigation and the Manila Fire District to determine the cause of the fire which started at the upper floors of the LMB.

The fire, which lasted for 22 hours, destroyed not only the LMB building but other adjacent buildings and establishments, including the National Archives Office.

With the Binondo building out of commission, the LMB has set up a temporary HelpDesk at the DENR main office in Quezon City to address land-related queries and concerns by the public.

The LMB is also eyeing to relocate its other offices in the DENR.

While the LMB stores back-up files of land titles digitized by the DENR’s regional offices, it has also been digitizing land titles in its care with the use of modern, high-tech equipment which were unfortunately also destroyed by the fire.

In 2016, it launched the Land Administration Management System, a computerized information system to consolidate all land data and records in the country to facilitate the land titling process. ###