Business, labor leaders: Justice for Valenzuela fire victims now

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MANILA, May 19, 2015 — Prominent business and labor leaders called on government officials to look into the fateful fire incident which claimed at least 72 lives last week.

Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) president Edgardo Lacson said their group deeply regrets what happened at Kentex factory last week as they offer their condolences to the bereaved families.

Former PCCI president Ambassador Francis Chua said the government should thoroughly investigate the latest fire incident which claimed 72 lives in Valenzuela City last week. He described the incident as a "disaster that can happen elsewhere." he called on government and the private sector to implement measures to prevent a repeat of the fatal incident. (Photo: Melo Acuña)

In an earlier CBCPNews report, Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros  expressed his concern for the victims of recent fire at a warehouse in Valenzuela City that left dozens of people dead.

“We condole with the families and pray for the eternal repose of the victims,” he said.

He hoped, however, that the presence of priests to assist the families of the victims and to bless their dead was a source of consolation for the bereaved.

“We support the ongoing investigation by the appropriate government agencies to look into possible violations of the Fire Code (of the Philippines), Occupational Safety and health Standards as well as basic Labor standards,” Lacson said.

Full extent of the law

He added “if such violations are verified, law and justice demand that the owners of Kentex (must) be penalized to the full extend of the law.”

He added rightful benefits and compensation must be accorded to the victims and their families.

“Time and again, we in ECOP have unequivocally stated that we do not condone acts or omissions of any enterprise that endanger the lives of employees,” he further said.

He concluded by saying “safety, health and decent hard work are non-negotiable.”

Former Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Ambassador Francis Chua said it was a disaster that can happen in any part of the world.

Dehumanizing work places

“We have to investigate [the incident] thoroughly to come up with measures to prevent the recurrence of said incident,” Chua said.

Atty. Sonny Matula, Federation of Free Workers president said the government should consider the people’s welfare over commerce.

In an interview, Matula said he finds something wrong with some businesses’ compliance with health and safety standards.

“We have sweatshop and dehumanizing workplaces,” he said.

Matula noted these conditions add to the sad reality that workers receive less than what is required by law.

Like former PCCI president Chua, Matula said government agencies like the Departments of Justice ,and Labor and Employment need to “conduct a thorough investigation” and let those responsible be held accountable.

He said with the fatal fire incident, there is a need to review the labor law compliance system all over again to prevent similar incidents in the future. (Melo M. Acuña/CBCPNews)

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