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Only P13,000 per fire victim? Mayor mad as firm vows more

A LIFE’S WORTH.  Family members of the victims of the May 13 Valenzuela City factory inferno pack the Barangay Ugong assembly hall on Saturday to receive P13,000 each as initial compensation from the slipper manufacturer Kentex. RIMA GRANALI

A LIFE’S WORTH. Family members of the victims of the May 13 Valenzuela City factory inferno pack the Barangay Ugong assembly hall on Saturday to receive P13,000 each as initial compensation from the slipper manufacturer Kentex. RIMA GRANALI

Is that all?

Valenzuela City Mayor Rexlon Gatchalian assailed the “negligible” compensation package so far released by Kentex Manufacturing Inc., owner of the slipper factory that burned down on May 13 and left over 70 workers dead in one of the biggest fires in the country in recent memory.

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The mayor expressed his dissatisfaction even as the company, through its lawyer, started handing out P13,000 in cash for each family of the dead and injured on Saturday. The amount represents a 10-day “back pay” of P8,000—regardless of the employees’ status as regular or casual—and additional assistance at P5,000 per family.

“There is no amount of monetary [compensation] that can equal the lives lost. But they should have been given an amount that can help them get back on their feet,” Gatchalian said in a statement. The amount allotted by Kentex, he said, was “negligible compared to what the families went through.”

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Presiding over the distribution of the cash assistance at the Barangay Ugong assembly hall, Kentex legal counsel Renato Paraiso said the families of about 200 factory employees are receiving compensation.

The number includes that of the 72 workers who died in the seven-hour fire and the estimated 130 who survived, he said.

In an interview, Paraiso said Kentex owners would provide more financial assistance in the coming days, but he could not yet tell when and how much. “It would depend on the burial, medical and other expenses the company will shoulder,” he added.

In an earlier dialogue with the workers’ families on Friday night, Paraiso said the company would give 15 days’ worth of back pay and a five-day “advance pay.”

But the figures were revised during the actual distribution on Saturday, where around 200 family members of the fire victims turned up. Staff members of Kentex and the city government’s social welfare office attended to the paperwork.

Told of the mayor’s comments, Paraiso said Gatchalian “misappreciated the offer” because the company would still be giving more.

For Eduardo Candido, who lost his 18-year-old sister Rosalie and seven relatives to the fire, the P13,000 was “certainly not enough.”

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TAGS: compensation, Fire, Kentex Manufacturing Inc., Valenzuela City
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