MANILA, May 14 (PNA) — The Palace said it is saddened by the huge loss of lives in a factory fire in Valenzuela on Wednesday, vowing to continue strict inspections of manufacturing companies to protect workers.
“We are saddened by the fire that gutted a factory in Valenzuela City yesterday that resulted in the death of many workers,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement issued on Thursday.
Coloma said they had been informed by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz that, based on Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) records, Kentex, the firm involved in the fire, was assessed to have been compliant with occupational safety requirements as of September 2014.
“The DOLE is coordinating with the Bureau of Fire Protection in ascertaining if there had been violations of safety regulations, so that proper accountability may be established,” he said.
According to the department, Kentex is a unionized company, with an existing safety committee, and its workers are entitled to government mandated social security and workmen’s compensation benefits.
Moreover, in compliance with President Aquino’s directives, the DOLE has intensified its campaign on compliance with labor law standards, including the hiring of additional labor inspectors, Coloma added.
As a result, a total of 76,880 companies were inspected in 2014, compared to the average of 23,400 companies inspected during the previous decade, he reported.
Of those inspected, a total of 8,974 companies were found to have either closed or could not be located in the recorded address, while 67,906 underwent occupational health and safety (OSH) investigation.
Of those companies actually inspected, 44,041 companies were found to be compliant and 23,865 were required to take corrective action; 7,528 companies have since complied, bringing the number of compliant companies to 51,569 or 76 percent of all those inspected, Coloma added.
“The government is firmly determined to intensify inspection of factories to ensure strict compliance with occupational safety and health standards and prevent a repetition of the Kentex fire and similar disasters that pose grave danger to the safety and lives of Filipino workers,” he said.
The Valenzuela fire left at least 70 factory workers dead. They were reportedly trapped inside the rubber slipper factory. More than 26 others have been reported missing and feared dead. (PNA)