|PHOTO by RADYO INQUIRER 990AM/ERWIN AGUILON
“The high death toll from this inferno strongly indicates a complete breach of safety protocols required for industries. Life certainly matters, but justice for this kind of catastrophe goes beyond legally required compensation. Factory owners and industry regulators must be held criminally-liable for this tragedy,” said Renato Magtubo of Partido Manggagawa (PM), one of Nagkaisa! convenors.
Josua Mata of Sentro ng Nagkakaisang Manggagawa (Sentro) suggested that investigations do not just determine the cause of fire but must dig deeper into why dozens of workers were fatally trapped in the second floor of the factory building.
“The country’s occupational safety and health standards (OSHS) do not only require workplaces to be safe from hazardous and flammable substances but also must be equipped with necessary infrastructures that address emergencies like contamination, fire or explosions,” said Mata.
Initial reports said the fire came from the stock of chemicals in the first floor of the building where a welding work is also being done.
Alan Tanjusay of ALU-TUCP, on his part, said: “this tragedy could have been prevented had government agencies, which include the labor department and local government units, strictly enforced the OSHS requirements in workplaces.”
Leody De Guzman of Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) advised the families of victims of Valenzuela fire to organize themselves and press charges against the owners of the footwear company.
The Federation of Free Workers (FFW) likewise called on concerned government agencies to extend the necessary financial and legal assistance to the victims.
The National Confederation of Labor (NCL) believed a substantial number of establishments all over the country are not compliant with occupational health safety standards because of corruption in government agencies.
Meanwhile Annie Geron of PSLINK, a confederation of public sector unions, bewailed the fact that quality public service, which include ensuring the safety of all workers at all times, remains missing or stuck in a state of downgraded priority in the government bureaucracy.