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Contractor liable for workers’ deaths

Town exec says employer not scot-free despite settlement with families
/ 12:17 AM January 22, 2015

GUIGUINTO, Bulacan—Families of workers who died when a wall of the warehouse they were building collapsed had agreed to settle with the contractor but the local government, according to one official, would still hold the contractor liable for the tragedy.

Government investigators also found lapses in the construction.

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Darsee Alvarez, chief of Barangay Ilang-ilang, where the warehouse owned by the Number One Golden Dragon Realty Corp. is located, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the families of the 11 fatalities accepted a P65,000 settlement from the contractor, Hoc Lim Co Construction Corp.

Edna Cruz Dayola, grand aunt of the 7-year-old victim, Dave Avelino, said they received P89,000 from the contractor. Of this amount, P39,000 had been set aside for burial expenses.

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On Monday, a wall of the warehouse collapsed and crushed a workers’ quarters beside it, killing 11 people.

Alvarez said he witnessed negotiations between the families and representatives of the contractor on Tuesday.

He said the families agreed to accept an initial P15,000 and an additional P50,000. The contractor, he said, also paid funeral services for the victims.

“I was there, they signed the documents in front of me,” said Alvarez. He said families who signed the settlement document would not press charges against the contractor.

Still liable

On Wednesday, Supt. Ernesto Cruz, police chief of Guiguinto town, said his office has yet to receive a formal complaint from relatives of the 11 dead workers and four workers injured in the accident.

One of the investigators said the initial findings showed the contractor committed procedural lapses and negligence that led to the accident.

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Adriatico Sulit, Guiguinto municipal engineer and a member of the investigating team, said investigators found that the wall’s foundation was faulty.

He said the contractor proceeded without a project engineer supervising the construction. “That was another problem. There was no one supervising the construction. Work at the construction site continued without anyone overseeing or checking if what the workers were doing was right,” he said.

He also said the local government would hold the contractor liable even if it had settled with the victims.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) regional office in Central Luzon on Tuesday issued a cease and desist order to Number One Golden Dragon Realty Corp. and Hoc Lim Co Construction Corp. following the accident.

A team from DOLE also attributed the collapse to faulty construction and engineering.

In an initial report, the DOLE team also found that there was no proper engineering and safety supervision in the work site.

The night before the tragedy, the wife of one of the dead workers, Rodolfo Nayanga, said her husband had little sleep.

“When I asked him why, he said he didn’t know,” said Nora. Nayanga’s brother, Jacinto, and cousins Jonathan Sagayap and Edmond Lagabala were among the dead. Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Inquirer Central Luzon with Annelle Tayao in Manila

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TAGS: Accident, Adriatico Sulit, Bulacan, Darsee Alvarez, Dave Avelino, Edmond Lagabala, Guiguinto, Hoc Lim Co Construction Corp., Jacinto Nayanga, Jonathan Sagayap, Number One Golden Dragon Realty Corp., Rodolfo Nayanga
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