Kentex fire victims cope with loss of loved ones
As flames engulfed Kentex Manufacturing factory, Gelson Logrono, who lives near the area, ran toward the burning building and screamed for his wife Bernardita’s name, hoping she would survive the fire.
But his wife did not respond.
“When I heard there was fire, I immediately ran to the factory. I went to a staircase nearby and called out my wife. But no one came out of the building,” said a reticent Gelson in Filipino as he and his son lit a candle for the victims of the May 13 inferno in front of the factory ruins in Barangay (village) Ugong.
With Gelson and his eight-year-old only son was Bernardita’s brother, who also mourns for the death of his two sisters who are both working for Kentex.
They went back to the building, where 72 persons died during the fire, after they joined other families of victims in filing charges against Kentex before the National Labor Relations Commission for violating labor standards.
Before they trooped to the NLRC office, Barbara Ang, daughter of one of Kentex owners, had a dialogue with the families at the Barangay Ugong assembly hall. Each of them received an envelope containing P5,700 and relief goods.
“Dapat mabigyan ng katarungan ang asawa ko (Justice must be served for my wife’s death),” Gelson said in an interview with INQUIRER.net.
Since the death of his wife, Gelson said their son had been asking him every night if his “mama” would still come home.
“Mahirap. Lalo na ito (points to his son) laging hinahanap ang mama niya tuwing gabi. Sasabihin, ‘uuwi na ba si mama? (It’s hard. Specially with this one, always searching for his mother at night. He’d ask, ‘Is mama coming home?),'” he said.
Bernardita had been an employee of the rubber slipper factory for six years. Back then, she encouraged her sister Jenalyn to join her. Their job was to paint brand logos on each footwear.
On Friday afternoon, a group of church workers with some relatives of the victims gathered in front of Kentex to call for justice for the workers.
Nardy Sabino, Secretary General of the Promotion of Church Peoples’ Response, said the incident, given that it had caused large loss of life, just showed the oppressive working condition in Kentex factory.
“Ito ‘yung nagpapakita na walang katarungan at ito ‘yung pagba-violate mismo ng aral ng simbahan na ang tao ay dapat tinuturing nang may dignidad (This shows there’s no justice and there’s violation of the teachings of the church that people must be treated with dignity),” Sabino said.
Asked how justice would be given to the victims, Sabino said someone has to take responsibility for the deaths and be put behind bars.
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