Aquino vows raps will be filed vs those liable in Kentex fire
“This was a tragedy waiting to happen.”
That was how President Benigno Aquino III on Monday described the tragic seven-hour fire which gutted a slippers factory owned by Kentex Manufacturing Corporaton in Valenzuela City and killed 72 people last May 13.
“According to the Fire Code, they should secure a permit to operate. From 1996, they have not complied with the requirements of the Fire Code. This was a tragedy waiting to happen,” Aquino said in Filipino.
Speaking almost three weeks after the fatal fire, Aquino said that persons found to be liable for the tragedy might face a reckless imprudence resulting to multiple homicide charge.
“Ang hinahabol natin hindi maulit ang trahedyang ito at talaga namang mapagdiinan sa pamamagitan ng mga kasong isasampa lahat ng nagtulung-tulong para magkaroon ng ganitong trahedya… puwedeng nabawasan ang mga nabiktima dito kung sinunod lang ‘yung mga batas na matagal nang nandiyan. So may mga nagkulang sa kanilang tungkulin at sila ang papanagutin natin. (What we are after here is that this tragedy will not be repeated and we emphasize the fact that if only Kentex followed safety regulations, the number of victims would have been fewer. There are people who have failed to fulfill their mandate and they are the ones which will be held accountable),” the President said.
While not disclosing names as the justice department is still in the fact-finding stage which will lead to a preliminary investigation, Aquino took a swipe at the local government unit of Valenzuela City for granting Kentex a business permit and certificate of occupancy despite its noncompliance to safety standards.
“Yung local government unit, alam niyo na kailangan ng fire safety inspection certificate (FSIC) pero binigyan niyo ng business permit at certificate of occupancy ng wala itong FSIC (The local government unit knows that a fire safety inspection certificate is needed yet you still give them a business permit and certificate of occupancy),” he said.
Aquino also questioned as to why Kentex continued its operations since it was not given an FSIC from the past two decades, except for 2012.
The President revealed the violations of Kentex in the Fire Code which include lack of an automatic fire sprinkler system and lack of a protected fire exit.
In light of the tragedy, Aquino directed the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to inspect more than 300,000 establishments in the National Capital Region to see if these are compliant to fire safety standards.
Aquino also mentioned that all 23 factories in Valenzuela City inspected by the BFP failed to comply with fire safety requirements.
Three of the 72 people who perished in the fire died of asphyxia or inhalation of fumes while 69 suffered fourth major degree burns. The seven-hour fire which gutted the factory killed one of the owner’s sons, two officials, and 69 workers who are allegedly subjected to unfair labor practices.
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