Gov’t vows stricter workplace inspection, fire standards
Following a European Union (EU) statement on the deadly Valenzuela City factory fire that indicated “poor labor conditions,” Malacañang on Saturday promised that the government was intensifying efforts to implement stricter inspections in the workplace to avoid similar incidents.
In an interview with Radyo ng Bayan, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) remained committed in ensuring the safety and welfare of industrial workers and laborers in general.
“I believe that this is not missed by Labor Secretary [Rosalinda] Baldoz, and that she did already say that they’re going to intensify inspections and intensify investigations on violations on matters such as this,” Valte said.
This was after the EU issued a brief statement expressing concern over “poor labor conditions” that might have led to the fire that hit Kentex Manufacturing Inc. on Wednesday.
READ: Death toll in Valenzuela fire rises to 72
“The delegation of the EU is concerned about the news that poor labor conditions, including the lack of proper safety standards, might have contributed to the shocking high number of victims of this tragedy,” the statement read.
“The delegation also welcomes the government’s determination to ensure strict compliance of all factories across the country with occupational safety and health standards, in line with international labor standards including International Labor Organization conventions,” it added.
Valte said DOLE was looking at the possible violations of Kentex, including reports that the footwear factory engaged the services of a subcontractor not recognized by the labor department.
READ: DOLE: Firm owes fire victims; labor group urges kin to sue | Gov’t to investigate Valenzuela factory for possible safety violations
“Moving forward, I don’t think anybody really wants to be lenient when it comes to safety standards,” she said, adding the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) is also strictly implementing the Fire Code.
“Permits are not issued just because they’re needed but, really, because it should be based on compliance with the Fire and Building Code that they have,” Valte added.
As to proposals to transfer the control and management of the Bureau and Fire Protection from the DILG to local government units, Valte said “that has to be studied in the meantime.”
She also welcomed Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago’s initiative to approve a bill that would make building owners criminally liable for violating fire safety standards.
“That has to be initiated through legislation. And if the good senator is proposing heavier penalties, then I’m pretty sure we can expect Senator Santiago to lead the charge on that,” she said.
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