MANILA — Following the fire that killed at least 72 individuals in Valenzuela City, the Palace on Sunday reiterated the need to criminalize the non-compliance with laws and regulations pertaining to occupational safety and health.
“We reiterate the strong stand taken by the government through the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on the need to criminalize non-compliance with laws and regulations pertaining to occupational safety and health,” said Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., in a radio interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.
According to Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, the existing regulations were enacted in 1978 and has no criminal penalties.
“We urge our lawmakers,” Secretary Baldoz noted, “to seriously see our plea for the enactment of these measures in a positive light, and that is for the ultimate welfare and protection of our workers, and the delivery of labor justice by punishing heartless employers.”
Coloma also noted that Secretary Baldoz had summoned officials of Kentex Manufacturing Corporation, the company that owns the gutted slipper factory and warehouse in Valenzuela City, along with its subcontractor, CJC Manpower Services, to a special meeting with the DOLE on Monday (May 18).
Initial DOLE findings show that CJC is an unregistered subcontractor. Unscrupulous employers reportedly turn to subcontracting some services to avoid complying with minimum wage laws and other government-mandated compensation and benefits.
Coloma added that the DOLE and its attached agency, the Employees Compensation Commission (ECC), are looking into the needs of the families of the victims of the fire.
“According to Secretary Baldoz, they will assist the families of those who perished in the fire in facilitating their claims for benefits such as loss of income benefit, funeral and death benefits. Those who were injured can also claim medical reimbursements under existing labor laws,” said Coloma.
An interagency task force made up of the Department of Interior and Local Government, Bureau of Fire Protection, Department of Justice, National Bureau of Investigation, DOLE and the Department of Health has been directed to conduct a thorough investigation of the recent fire to determine security and safety lapses and to recommend the filing of appropriate charges based on its findings.