MANILA — Eight female workers died of suffocation inside a padlocked room after a fire broke out yesterday in a two-storey residential house and DVD warehouse in Pasay City.
The victims’ bodies, found embracing each other near the door of the room which was padlocked from the outside, were identified as Heiderliza Ib-Ib, 24, and her sister Lorena, 21; Angeline Quillano, 21;Shelalyn Habagat, 19; Jelsa Saburiga, 19; Renalyn de Baguio, 21; Maricris Palmesa Calumba, 21; and Floraly Balucos, 20.
According to the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), the fire started on the ground floor of the residential building where electronic devices – cell phones, DVD players, laptops – were stored.
Lucilla Grace Corpuz, Chairman of Barangay 47 said in an interview that the warehouse owned by Juanito Go has no permit to operate the electronics business in a residential area.
She added that the victims , who died in the five-hour-long fire, were recruited from Negros Oriental and made to work in the building’s electronic shop 12 hours a day without day-off with a salary of P2,000 to P3,000 monthly.
“The workers were kept like prisoners and they were not allowed to [go] out after working,” she said explaining the reason why the room was padlocked from the outside during the fire.
Corpuz also said that workers were already complaining against Go, the owner of the building for not paying their salaries and preventing them from going home to their provinces.
Meanwhile, the other employees were able to climb to the building’s rooftops and were rescued by the firemen. They were identified as Irene Acua, 22; Janice Bajo, 20; Cherrlyn Calum, 22; Michelle Callano, 22; Jessa Mae Callao, 22; Dally delos Nios, 18; Almera Zuñiga, 22; Jessa Maria Callao, 17, and Nikki Torres, 22.
The police have taken Go into custody and are now coordinating with the Department of Social Welfare and Development for assistance to the survivors.
With reports from Perseus Echeminada