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Gatchalian laments ‘chilling effect’ of Ombudsman’s dismissal order

/ 01:38 PM March 06, 2016
INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/REM ZAMORA

HEIGHT OF TRAGEDY The May 13 inferno that engulfed the Kentex footwear factory has left a scar of death on Valenzuela City’s industrial landscape. REM ZAMORA

Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian has confirmed on Sunday that his camp has received the Ombudsman’s order dismissing him from service over the deadly fire which gutted Kentex Manufacturing Corporation and killed at least 74 people in May last year.

In a text message sent to INQUIRER.net, Gatchalian said that his lawyers were able to secure a temporary restraining order from the Court of Appeals to stop the implementation of the Ombudsman’s order.

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Without elaborating further on the details of the Ombudsman’s ruling, the mayor said that the order will produce a “chilling effect” on mayors of highly urbanized cities who issue “provisional business permits” to business establishments.

“This TRO is important because without it there will be a chilling effect on city mayors of highly urbanized cities as we all exercise the same procedure imposed by the DILG memo circulars of Sec. (Jesse) Robredo,” Gatchalian said.

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He said that if the city government dispense with the issuance of provisional business permits, it will supposedly bring “irreparable damage to our economy and generate massive unemployment.”

“Do they want these establishments to close down?” the mayor said.

Gatchalian, who is currently serving as the spokesperson of the Senator Grace Poe’s Partido Galing at Puso (PGP), has earlier defended the issuance of provisional business permit to the footwear factory.

In the aftermath of the incident, it was found that Kentex was granted a business permit without the required fire safety inspection certificate (FSIC) from the Bureau of Fire Protection.

Presenting the results of the investigation from the Inter-Agency Arson Task Force in June last year, President Benigno Aquino III partly blamed the Valenzuela City government for issuing permit to the slipper factory without the requisite FSIC.

“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.

Aquino then said that one of the charges being eyed against city officials was reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide.
The Ombudsman is said to officially release the decision to the media on Monday.

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TAGS: Kentex, Kentex Manufacturing Corporation, Rex Gatchalian, temporary restraining order, TRO, valenzuela
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