MANILA, May 20, 2015— The Department of Labor and Employment should be held responsible for the circumstances surrounding the factory fire that claimed 72 lives in Valenzuela City last week, a Catholic bishop said.
San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza said the agency “should be held liable” for giving the Kentex Manufacturing Corp., an occupational health and safety standard compliance certificate in September 2014.
He said the Church sees violations of occupational health and safety standards that resulted in the workers’ deaths as “criminal acts”.
“We thus call on all relevant government agencies including the Valenzuela local government unit and the Bureau of Fire Protection to deeply investigate the incident, including the compliance of the factory with existing safety standards,” he said.
“If violations are found, there must be accountability and criminal punishment for justice to be attained for the victims and their families,” said Alminaza.
The bishop chairs the Churchpeople-Worker’s Solidarity, a group that aims to propagate the social teachings of the Church on labor and to promote improvement of workers’ conditions.
Yesterday, several priests from CWS held Mass in front of the footwear factory for the victims and their families.
The group said the incident points to serious occupational safety issues and highlights the hazards faced by workers in many factories nationwide.
“It is truly tragic that so many perished in a fire apparently because they were trapped inside the workplace,” Alminaza added.
“The death of so many workers shows that the government’s mechanism for labor assessment is seriously flawed and has exposed the abusive conditions for millions of poor and desperate workers across the nation,” he also said. (CBCPNews)