Bello gives aid to family of acid-doused OFW from Taiwan
CITY OF ILAGAN, Isabela — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Saturday (Sept. 21) handed out financial aid to the family of twenty-nine-year-old Deserie Tagubasi, an overseas worker who died from acid burns in an accident in Taiwan.
Tagubasi died in a hospital where she was treated for leg burns she suffered on August 28 when she was splattered with hydrofluoric acid from a container she dropped inside the Tyntek Electronics Factory at the Chunan Science Park in Miaoli County.
Hydrofluoric acid is a highly corrosive agent used for electronics manufacturing.
“The acid spill is accidental but we see the company’s possible lapses on the occupational safety and health and lack of safety training for their workers,” Bello III said after handing over a million pesos in financial assistance and benefits from the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration to Amelia and Hilario Tagubasi, the victim’s parents.
Tyntek did not provide Tagubasi and her co-workers with full body protection from hydrofluoric acid, and were not given adequate safety training, said Fidel Macauyag, director of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Taiwan.
Tagubasi’s coffin was flown back to the country and was taken back to her home in Lullutan village on Thursday (Sept. 19).
A single woman who had been helping pay for her younger siblings’ education, Tagubasi had been working in Taiwan for the past three years and was expected to take her vacation this month when the tragedy struck.
“We were dumbfounded. When my daughter in Manila called us about Deserie’s death, I couldn’t stop crying,” Amalia said.
Digna Abarra, Tagubasi’s sister, said she intends to sue the Taiwanese firm.
Environmental health groups here and in Taiwan have demanded justice for Tagubasi.
In a joint press statement, the Environmental Quality Protection Foundation of Taiwan and the EcoWaste Coalition of the Philippines condoled with Tagubasi’s family and asked for a full and impartial investigation of the fatal incident.
“The Ministry of Labor should initiate a complete investigation report on this case, including Tyntek Corporations’ work distribution, hazard notification, protective measures, emergency procedures, etc., especially whether there is unreasonable differential treatment for foreign female workers,” said Dr. Ying-Shih Hsieh, Chairman, EQPF and President, Taiwan Society of International Law.
“We also demand that the government of Taiwan should adopt the ‘International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families’ as soon as possible,” he added.
“It’s high time for the electronics industry to stop putting the health of their workers at risk due to exposure to highly toxic substances used in the manufacture of e-devices. Hazardous chemicals must be replaced with safer alternatives that will not poison workers nor pollute the environment,” said Thony Dizon, chemical safety campaigner of EcoWaste Coalition./lzb
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.