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OVER 2,000 WORKERS AFFECTED

Davao fire: DOLE sets P30-M aid; mayor distances self from probe

DAVAO BLAZE Firefighters battle the blaze that engulfed the four-story NCCC Mall in the commercial center of Matina District in Davao City. —BARRY OHAYLAN

The government will provide P30 million for the emergency employment of more than 2,000 workers affected by the fire that hit NCCC Mall in Davao City last weekend.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III ordered the release of the funds as probers continued to investigate the fire that left 38 people dead in President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown.

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Meanwhile, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte recused herself from the probe of the fire amid fears that she might show  bias for the mall owners because of an endorsement deal with an NCCC subsidiary.

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But the President’s eldest daughter gave assurances that agencies under the local government would provide the required data, particularly from city building officials and the city’s 911 emergency service.

Bello vowed that no worker affected by the fire would be displaced as he ordered the Bureau of Working Conditions, the Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) and the Employees Compensation Commission (ECC) to provide all possible assistance.

Bello issued the directive after he met with the management of NCCC Mall and Survey Sampling International (SSI), a business process outsourcing firm housed in the ill-fated mall.

The P30 million will cover the employees of the NCCC, the SSI, employees of mall tenants and other employees of the service providers.

Burial assistance

The ECC will also give P30,000 in burial assistance to the kin of the 38 victims, including grocery items for the wake of their loved ones. This will be followed by a P3,700 monthly survivorship pension to the kin of the victims.

The Department of Labor and Employment regional office, along with the OSHC and the ECC, will also extend an additional P20,000 in assistance to each of the families of the 38 victims.

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Earlier, the NCCC management promised that its 616 regular mall workers would not lose their jobs as they would be reassigned to other businesses.

While the government is attending to affected workers, Mayor Duterte on Friday said she would no longer talk about the ongoing probe amid questions on her partiality and integrity.

“I will not talk about the investigation anymore because they are saying I have a bias (for NCCC). They’re questioning my integrity and impartiality,” she said.

Endorser

The mayor maintained that fears over her partiality were incorrect because she only had “a commitment” with ChoiceMart, another company under the NCCC supermarket group.

Sara, for several years now, has been an endorser of ChoiceMart’s “Mareng Inday” campaign, which aims to generate loyalty among shoppers by providing discounts and freebies.

She said questions related to the probe should now be directed at the national investigation team, composed of the Bureau of Fire Protection, Department of the Interior and Local Government, the National Bureau of Investigation and the police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

Moreover, the mayor said her perceived bias could not possibly influence the outcome of the probe because she was not even a member of the task force. “And under normal circumstances, a city mayor does not sign fire investigation reports of the BFP.”

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TAGS: DOLE, ECC, NCCC mall fire, Sara Duterte-Carpio, Silvestre Bello III
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