Aquino clears BFP, blames V’zuela admin for Kentex fire tragedy
THE Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) was cleared by President Benigno Aquino from being liable on the seven-hour fire which gutted a slippers factory in Valenzuela City and killed 72 people last May 13.
The BFP was under fire after it allegedly failed to ensure that the factory followed fire safety standards despite its regular inspections.
Aquino said that by determining the lapses of factory owner Kentex Manufacturing Corporation in complying with fire safety regulations proves that BFP has done its job.
“Yung records na pinakita sa atin, kaya wala silang (Kentex) fire safety inspection certificate (kasi) ginawa ng BFP ang trabaho nila (The records presented to us only shows that the BFP has done its job because they were able to determine that Kentex does not have a fire safety inspection certificate),” the President explained.
Aquino said that the fire protection bureau notified Kentex and the local government of Valenzuela City of the fire safety requirements violated by the slippers factory.
“In-inspect, may kakulangan, in-inform ang kaukulang kumpanya at pagkakaintindi ko, pati ang local government (The BFP inspected the factory and found out violations. It then informed the company and in my understanding, even the local government),” Aquino added.
He stressed the importance of the FSIC as proof that the establishment is compliant with government safety and labor standards.
“Kailangan mag-presenta ‘nung aplikante ‘yung FSIC. Wala silang ipresenta, hindi puwedeng bigyan ng (business) permit. So parang ‘yon ang panigurado ng gobyerno na sundin ‘yung mga batas para mapangalagaan ‘yung kapakanan ng manggagawa (The applicant needs to present an FSIC. If they do not present one, they should not be given a permit. So it acts like the government’s safeguard if an applicant follows regulations which protect the rights of workers),” the President said.
In his speech, Aquino slammed the local administration of Valenzuela City for giving Kentex a business permit despite its noncompliance to fire safety standards.
Gatchalian hits back
Minutes after Aquino’s speech, Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian lashed back, saying that BFP did not direct them to revoke the business permit of Kentex.
Gatchalian explained that the city government is following three circulars from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and BFP dated 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively, which gives the local government unit (LGU) the mandate to streamline the release of business permits.
He said that the BFP could conduct an inspection in establishments after the local government issued a provisional business permit. If the BFP found any negative findings in its inspection, they should report it back to the LGU so that the business permit can be revoked.
The mayor added that the BFP was also given various avenues to ask the LGU to revoke provisional business permits but it did not raise any concern regarding Kentex.
“In Valenzuela City, they (BFP) never reported any negative findings,” Gatchalian said in a televised press conference.
He also blasted the BFP for only inspecting 83,000 out of 300,000 establishments in the National Capital Region, saying that waiting for the BFP to finish its inspections will be detrimental to the local economy.
“If we keep on waiting for them, what will happen to businesses? What will happen to the local economy?” the Valenzuela City mayor said.
“The local government unit of Valenzuela will not act without any legal basis or legal imprimatur for us to move. And we treat memo circulars coming from national agencies, more so, departments, with utmost importance and urgency,” Gatchalian stressed. AC
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