21:11:21 local time PHILIPPINES
* 3rd month of Kentex fire marked with DOLE protest:
Marking the third month of the Kentex factory fire, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno, together with the families of the victims and the survivors of the tragedy, picketed the Labor Department in Intramuros, Manila this morning.
The group said Labor Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz and other top officials of the agency should resign and be held responsible for the death of more than 72 workers in the fire because they certified the slipper factory’s “compliance” with occupational health and safety standards and labor standards on September 2014.
KMU also condemned the Justice Department which, last July, recommended the filing of charges against the capitalists of Kentex and the local government of Valenzuela City but did not recommend the filing of charges against Baldoz and top officials of the Department of Labor and Employment.
“Three months after the Kentex factory fire, the building blocks of injustice have already been laid.
The Aquino government is doing everything to insulate from blame the government agency most responsible for the death of more than 72 workers,” said Lito Ustarez, KMU vice-chairperson.
* House panel approves measure that amends work safety laws:
A house of Representatives panel has approved a measure amending the country’s occupational safety law as a response to the recent slipper factory fire which left more than 70 workers dead.
The House committee on labor and employment approved on Wednesday a bill amending provisions of Executive Order 307 or the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Standards Law signed by former President Corazon C. Aquino in 1987, along with portions of the Labor Code.
“It is now required for each employer, contractor, and subcontractor, and any person who manages, controls or supervises the work being undertaken to provide their workers with a working area that is free from hazardous conditions cause or are likely to cause death, illness or physical harm,” the substitute bill reads.
With the proposed amendments, employers will be required to give complete job safety instructions and orientations to all workers, particularly to new hires, along with complete information on the hazards and health risks to which they will be exposed.
Personal protective equipment and machine guards must also be supplied by the factory owner.
In return, workers are also expected to use these protective gear daily, and cooperate with training and lectures given to familiarize themselves with their line of work and their surroundings.
* DOJ hit for ‘insulating’ Roxas, Baldoz from liability over Kentex tragedy:
“Saved by the DOJ (Department of Justice)”– this is how various labor advocates reacted to what Anakpawis Partylist calls as “obviously politicized” recommendation of the Department of Justice on the Kentex fire tragedy.
They said the DOJ is trying to save Local Government Sec. Roxas and at the same time, offering a “gift to Aquino” in time for his State of the Nation Address, similar to the Ombudsman’s act of clearing him from any charges in relation to the bloodbath in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
After a second batch of Kentex fire survivors and family members trooped to the Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday (July 22) to bolster their fellow survivors’ calls for a probe and filing of charges, Justice Sec. Leila De Lima issued her department’s recommendation which excluded the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) from accountability.
These are the very departments the workers had been urging the Ombudsman to charge for “criminal neglect” and “reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and physical injury.”
* DOJ ruling on Kentex blaze ‘obviously politicized’–Hicap:
A Party-List lawmaker on Saturday criticized the “obviously politicized” recommendation of the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the Kentex fire.
Party-list Rep. Fernando L. Hicap of Anakpawis said that DOJ recommendation has excluded the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole), the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) from accountability.
“The DOJ is acquitting agencies under the Aquino administration, though, it is clear that if only they properly did their mandate, the deaths of many workers could be avoided,” Hicap said.
read more. & read more.
* Solon hits DOJ for clearing DILG, BFP, DOLE over Kentex fire:
* DOJ recommendation on Kentex fire, politicized – Anakpawis:
The militant Anakpawis Party-list criticized the recommendation of the Department of Justice on the Kentex fire tragedy as “obviously politicized” as it excluded the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) from accountability.
During the congressional inquiry last May, labor law compliance officer from DOLE admitted issuance of Certificate of Compliance to Kentex Manufacturing on September 2014 amid obvious fire and safety hazard existed at its factory in Valenzuela. Anakpawis Representative Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap filed House Resolution No. 2099 to investigate the fire tragedy.
According to Justice For Kentex Victims, group of the victims’ families and Kilusang Mayo Uno, the BFP, which is under DILG did not issue a Fire Safety Inspection Certificate for 2014 and 2015 but did nothing to close down or stop the operation of the factory.
Anakpawis also slammed DOLE for allowing the subcontractor operations of CJC Manpower Agency which is neither registered at the Securities and Exchange Commission nor DOLE.
The labor department recorded only 46 workers while it actually operates on 200 workers.
* DOLE completes probe of Kentex fire:
Whether or not Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) officials are liable for a fire that gutted a slipper factory and resulted in the death of 73 persons will be known next week.
“Investigation is complete and all the evidence and information gathered are now under evaluation.
The committee tasked to conduct the investigation will submit their recommendation to me by next week,” Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said yesterday.
On Thursday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) ordered Valenzuela Mayor Rexlon Gatchalian and five other city officials to undergo preliminary investigation in connection with the Kentex incident.
The DOJ also asked the DOLE to look into the possible liability of certain labor officials for issuing a certificate of compliance to Kentex prior to the fire.
* Kentex workers, relatives troop to Ombudsman to push call for justice:
There has been no update, no feedback, no nothing about their case.
More Kentex workers and family members of Kentex fire victims trooped to the Office of the Ombudsman Wednesday, June 22, to bolster the demand for investigation and justice filed last month by their fellow Kentex survivors.
Before submitting their papers, they picketed first at the gates of the Office of the Ombudsman to call on the said office to act on their case, with urgency.
They complained that since last month, when their fellow workers and survivors filed their demand to hold these agencies accountable, there has been “no update, no feedback, no nothing about their case.”
“More of us are now urging the Ombudsman to investigate the top officials of Department of Labor and Employment, Bureau of Fire Protection and Department of Interior and Local Government toward filing cases of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and physical injury and negligence of duty,” said Ammied Rada, coordinator of Justice for Kentex Workers Alliance.
* DOJ recommends criminal, admin raps vs. Valenzuela execs, fire officials, 4 others for Kentex fire:
The Department of Justice recommended on Thursday the filing of criminal and administrative cases against some Valenzuela City executives and fire officials, and four private individuals in connection with the May 13 fire at the Kentex Manufacturing Corp. that claimed 72 lives.
The DOJ recommendation followed a review and evaluation of the findings and recommendations of the Inter-Agency Anti-Arson Task Force and the Department of the Interior and Local Government on the Kentex fire.
Charges of reckless imprudence resulting to multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code have been recommended against:
Administrative charges are also recommended against them and the Kentex owners and officials.
In a memorandum to Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II dated July 20, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the criminal complaints may be filed by the members of the IATF along with the victims’ relatives as private complainants before the Valenzuela city prosecutor.
The DOJ panel that investigated the incident, which was headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Roberto Lao, likewise recommended further probe on possible liabilities of officials of the Department of Labor and Employment-National Capital Region (DOLE-NCR) for their issuance of certificate that Kentex complied with labor laws as well as the department’s own Occupational Safety and Health Hazard “nothwithstanding the violation of pertinent labor laws.”
* DOJ OKs raps vs Valenzuela, Kentex execs over deadly fire:
The Departement of Justice (DOJ) has recommended the filing of criminal and administrative charges against Valenzuela City officials led by Mayor Rex Gatchalian, executives of Kentex Manufacturing Corp. and the welding company blamed for the May 13 factory fire which left 74 people dead.
A statement released by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday said the move was based on a review and evaluation of the findings submitted by the interior department’s Inter-Agency Anti-Arson Task Force (IATF) which investigated the fire.
* Valenzuela mayor ready to face raps over deadly Kentex fire:
Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian on Thursday said he is ready to face the charges that a special panel of the Department of Justice recommended to be filed against him in line with last May’s fire at the two-story slipper factory that left 72 people dead.
A News TV Live report quoted Gatchalian as saying he was not surprised by the DOJ panel’s recommendations announced earlier in the day.
read & see more.
* Valenzuela mayor faces criminal charges for deadly Kentex fire in May:
A six-man panel of prosecutors on Thursday recommended the filing of criminal and administrative complaint against Valenzuela City Mayor Rexlon Gatchalian and six other individuals in connection with the fire that killed 72 people during the fire on May 13 at the Kentex Manufacturing Corp. in Valenzuela City.
The panel headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Roberto Lao said preliminary investigation should be conducted against Terrence King Ong, operations manager of Kentex; Oscar Romero and Wilmer Arenal employees of Ace Shutter Corp. (the company that undertook the welding work at Kentex); and Rosalina Uy Ngo, owner of Ace Shutter Corp., for reckless imprudence resulting to multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code.
The panel said a similar complaint will be filed against the other owners of Kentex identified as Ong King Guan and Beato Ang “in the event that further investigation on their management responsibilities and administrative functions reveals equal culpability on the safety of the establishment” together with Terrence.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* DOJ panel OKs raps vs. Valenzuela mayor, others over Kentex fire:
A special panel of the Department of Justice has recommended criminal charges against Valenzuela City Mayor Rexon Gatchalian, several fire officials, and the owner of Kentex Manufacturing Corporation over last May’s fire at a two-storey slipper factory in Valenzuela City that left 72 people dead.
Also recommended charged were the owner and employees of the company that did welding work at the factory, the DOJ said on Thursday.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima later clarified that the recommendations made by the special panel would still undergo a preliminary investigation by the DOJ, which would decide whether cases would be filed in court.
Recommended charged with multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code were:
read more. & read more.
* DOLE grants livelihood to 113 Kentex fire victims:
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Regional Office delivered livelihood grants to 113 workers and dependents of the victims of fire disaster in Kentex Manufacturing Corporation in Valenzuela City.
DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz on Wednesday commended DOLE-National Capital Region following Regional Director Alex Avila’s report on the livelihood awarding.
“The livelihood awards consisted of jigs and tools that the recipients could use to help them recover from the tragedy,” Avila said in his report to Sec. Baldoz.
The livelihood award is apart from the liabilities that will be paid by Kentex, the worker’s employer.
The grants provided by DOLE Regional Office include P10,000 worth of home-based livelihoods such as rice trading, carinderia, frozen food trading, patis and dishwashing making, sari-sari store, dress-making, buy and sell, burger stand, street food vending and welding intended for the bereaved.
* Kentex fire victims’ kin get to choose DOLE aid:
More than a hundred survivors and relatives of the victims of the Kentex slipper factory fire in Valenzuela City are receiving livelihood assistance worth P10,000 each from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), which allowed them to choose the type of aid package they wish to get.
Jessie Sabungan, who lost her son to the seven-hour blaze that claimed 74 lives on May 13, requested a sewing machine, which she hopes to take home to her native town of Marabut, Samar province.
Sabungan was part of the first batch of 35 beneficiaries who received aid from DOLE’s National Capital Region office on July 15 at the barangay hall of Ugong, Valenzuela City.
She was in Samar when she heard about the Kentex fire, but realized only later that her son was among the fatalities.
This was because he was previously employed in another factory and then transferred to Kentex “without my knowledge,” lured by the higher pay of P480 per day, she said.
* 2 months after Kentex fire| Workers demand policy change, justice:
“Justice is what we want.”
Two months after the Kentex factory fire in Valenzuela, survivors and relatives of those who perished have been joining protest actions of various workers groups, still demanding justice.
Making an appeal to the public, Michael Lazarte, coordinator of Justice for Kentex Workers Alliance, said, “Don’t be taken in by the deception of Kentex management. Don’t let them trample all over us yet again.”
“Contrary to what the Kentex management wanted to appear, we are bent on demanding justice,” Lazarte emphasized.
He said their fight is now in the cases they have filed with the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC); in the administrative and criminal cases they have filed at the Office of the Ombudsman, and in the criminal cases they have filed at the Valenzuela Regional Trial Court. All of these are not yet resolved.
But Kentex’s legal counsel has previously made much of the news that some of the survivors had accepted their P151,000 ($3,343) offer of compensation. In exchange, the survivors have supposedly agreed not to pursue the cases against Kentex Manufacturing Corp.
* Wanted: CJC Manpower Services:
CJC Manpower Services, the service agency that was hired by slipper maker Kentex Manufacturing Inc., is nowhere to be found.
Letters from the National Labor Relations Commission to the service agency’s address in Meycauayan, Bulacan have been bouncing back.
Efforts by families of the victims and by the survivors of the Kentex factory fire to find out the service agency’s address have come to naught.
The service agency’s buildings in Barangay Mapulang Lupa, Valenzuela City are already closed.
News reports say that 31 out of the more than 72 workers who died in the Kentex factory fire were employed by CJC Manpower Services.
News reports detail the service agency’s numerous violations of the law according to senior labor laws compliance officer Dante M. Regala who inspected the service agency last May 15.
The service agency’s disappearance does not augur well for efforts by the victims’ families and the survivors to hold it accountable for grave violations of safety and general labor standards.
We are calling on the public to help us and the Justice for Kentex Workers Alliance to find out the address of the owners of CJC Manpower Services.
* On the 2nd Month of the worst factory fire in the PH: Tragedy of Kentex Workers, a tragedy of every Filipino contractual worker:
Today marks the second month of the worst factory fire in the country, leaving at least 74 dead workers who were trapped inside the factory floor.
An independent fact-finding mission that was conducted by labor NGOs and unions showed major violations in the basic occupational health and safety (OHS) standards of Kentex.
However, beyond the non-compliance of the basic OHS standards inside the workplace showed a long list of other basic labor standards violation by the Kentex management, the most glaring is rampant contractualization.
“The violation on basic labor standards of Kentex did not end in their OHS violations that instantly took the lives of the 74 workers. Slowly and gradually, the lives of workers in Kentex were siphoned by non-payment of minimum wage, benefits, and social security, and rampant contractualization,” said Anna Leah Escresa-Colina, the Executive Director of the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, Inc. (EILER).
EILER was part of the independent Fact-Finding Mission that gathered information from the survivors and families of victims.
Members of the Fact-Finding Mission later facilitated the formation of the Justice for Kentex Workers Alliance which is a broad campaign network of organizations and families of the victims and survivors.
“Majority of the victims and survivors of the Kentex factory were hired as contractuals. They were piece-rate, agency-hired, and casuals. Contractualization was so rabid in Kentex that 65% of its total workforce was on temporary employment,” added Escresa-Colina.
The Philippine Constitution provides that every worker has a right to security of tenure. Unfortunately in Kentex, even if workers had been hired from one year to 17 years, they remained contractual.
* Ombudsman dared: Go after Baldoz, Roxas over Kentex fire:
File charges against top DOLE, DILG officials over Kentex factory fire.
This was national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno’s challenge to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales after she claimed that she is “apolitical” and suspended both Makati Mayor Junjun Binay who belongs to the opposition and former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima, an ally of the president.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz and Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, both allies of the president, are among government officials that families of the victims and the survivors of the Kentex fire tragedy sued before the Office of the Ombudsman last June 8.
“We dare the Ombudsman to use her powers for the benefit of Filipino workers. Filing charges against Baldoz, Roxas and other top officials over the Kentex factory fire would show that she is ‘apolitical’ in a way that is significant to workers,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
The labor leader also reacted to news reports that the Department of Labor and Employment has already forwarded to the Department of Justice criminal charges against the capitalists of Kentex.
* Families of Kentex fire victims: ‘We will not drop claims’:
While 57 families have already dropped their claims against the footwear factory, some continue to reject the P151,200 settlement offer
Nearly two months since a deadly factory blaze killed their loved ones, some families of the 74 workers killed in Kentex Manufacturing Corporation in Valenzuela City vowed not to drop their claims against the footwear factory in exchange for what they considered a measly settlement.
Last month, 57 families already dropped their claims against Kentex in exchange for P151,200 ($3344).
But Ammied Rada, whose 21-year-old sister Gerly and 25-year-old brother Ericson died in the May 13 fire, said he has no plans of dropping the case against Kentex.
“Hindi ko iaatras. Gusto ko makamit ang hustisya para sa mga kapatid ko,” he said on Wednesday, July 8, after a second hearing at the National Labor Relations Commission in Quezon City. (I will not drop my claim. I want to obtain justice for my siblings.)
Rada said Kentex had offered the same amount to the 5 complainants who showed up at the hearing, despite earlier demands of P7 million for the victims and P4 million for the survivors.
Rada ridiculed what he considered a paltry sum that Kentex was offering for the horrific deaths of the 74 workers, most of whom had been working in dire conditions inside the factory.
* Police identifies all victims of Kentex fire, except one:
Police have identified all the Kentex factory fire victims except for one whom authorities plan to just declare as a missing person.
This, as police forensics experts were not able to extract samples from the recovered bone fragments due to the severity of the damage for the DNA testing.
With no DNA samples obtained, a police source said the Philippine National Police (PNP) may just declare the victim as missing person which means that the family will have to wait for seven years before the declaration of death.
The declaration of death of a person is necessary for claims and other legal procedures.
The PNP Crime Laboratory is expected to release the findings of its scope of work for the Kentex factory fire in May that left 74 people dead.
It was recalled that fire engulfed the Kentex factory and trapped most of its workers at the second floor.
The fire started at the main gate where welding works were being done.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* DOJ finishes probe on Kentex fire, to release report soon:
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has finished its review on the findings of an inter-agency task force that investigated the Kentex factory fire in Valenzuela City that killed 72 people on May 13.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, in a text message on Friday, said she had received the report of the special panel of prosecutors tasked to evaluate findings and come up with recommendations based on evidence gathered in the report of Inter-Agency Anti-Arson Task Force (IATF) composed of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine National Police, and National Bureau of Investigation.
“I am now reviewing the report and might release it either next week or the week after,” she said.
read more. & read more.
* Slipper factory workers to get P1.4 M more:
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has ordered Kentex Manufacturing Corp. to pay its workers an additional P1.4 million in money claims.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the agency issued an order requiring the owners of the slipper factory to pay the kin of 57 workers a total amount of P1,440,641.
The amount represents underpayment of basic wages, premium pay on rest day, non-payment of cost-of-living-allowance, regular holiday pay, overtime pay, night shift differential pay, 13th month pay, unauthorized deduction of cash bond and non-payment of service incentive leave pay, Baldoz said.
Earlier, DOLE ordered Kentex’s subcontractor, CJC Manpower Services, to pay 99 workers of the slipper factory P8.3 million.
DOLE has given Kentex 10 days upon receipt of the order to settle the money claims.
* Kentex told to pay 57 workers’ claims:
The Department of Labor and Employment-National Capital Region has ordered Kentex Manufacturing Corporation to pay 57 workers an aggregate amount of P1.4 million in money claims even as the Social Security System settled funeral benefits to relatives of 67 workers-victims of the fire that razed the company last May 13.
DOLE said the financial award is included in the compliance order issued by DOLE-National Capital Region Director Alex Avila based on the general labor standards and occupational safety and health investigation at the company .
* DNA tests identify 73rd Kentex fire victim:
Police forensic experts identified yesterday the 73rd victim of the fire that razed the Kentex slipper factory in Valenzuela City last May.
Officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) crime laboratory identified the male victim through DNA analysis.
Senior Superintendent Emmanuel Aranas, deputy director of the PNP crime laboratory, said DNA tests were conducted on bone fragments recovered from the factory located in Barangay Ugong.
Aranas withheld the identity of the victim, saying they would coordinate first with the relatives.
* DOLE-NCR orders Kentex to pay 52 workers, five others P1.4 million:
The Metro Manila office of the Department of Labor and Employment on Friday ordered Kentex to pay 57 of its workers an aggregate amount of P1.4 million in money claims, it was learned Wednesday.
The amount is on top of the P8.3 million that DOLE-Central Luzon ordered the slippers factory owner’s subcontractor CJC Manpower Services to pay its 99 workers which Kentex itself may end up paying because CJC Manpower is not a DOLE-registered sub-contractor.
In a news release, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz made this announcement after DOLE-Metro Manila Director Alex V. Avila submitted to her a report that his office has issued a compliance order on general labor standards and occupational safety and health investigation at the company razed by fire on 13 May 2015.
* DOLE recommends filing of criminal charges vs. Kentex:
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has recommended the filing of criminal charges against Kentex Manufacturing Corp., the owner of the gutted factory in Valenzuela City, which killed 73 people.
In a statement, Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz disclosed she has already sent her recommendation to the Department of Justice (DOJ), which will consolidate all the charges to be filed by the government against the erring footwear company and its subcontractor, CJC Manpower Services.
“I have submitted a briefer on the violations of labor laws, detailing possible documentary evidence to support probable cause for the institution of criminal action against Kentex Manufacturing Corporation and CJC Manpower Services,” Baldoz said.
Based on its investigation, DOLE found Kentex and CJC liable for underpayment of minimum wage and large-scale illegal recruitment.
Both infractions are considered criminal acts since it violates provisions of the Labor Code.
read more. & read more.
* SSS pays funeral benefits to Kentex fire victims:
The Social Security System (SSS) has paid funeral benefits to nearly all families that were affected by the fire that razed a factory in Valenzuela last month.
SSS said 67 of the 74 families of the victims received employees’ compensation (EC) funeral benefits. Nine families have also received Social Security (SS) funeral benefits.
EC funeral benefits granted to work-related deaths amount to P20,000.
Another P20,000 in SS burial benefits are currently being processed for the beneficiaries of the victims.
SSS said that to date, only seven EC funeral benefit claims are left for processing as some relatives of the deceased members still could not be found and others have yet to contact the government agency.
See part 1: Philippine footwear Factory fire Part 1 20150513- 20150626