Tragedy in Kentex factory fire must never happen again, says President Aquino
Emphasizing that the tragedy that killed 72 workers in the Kentex factory fire must never happen again, President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday vowed to press criminal charges against those responsible for the fire and ordered the inspection of 300,000 establishments in the National Capital Region (NCR) to ensure that they meet fire safety standards.
“Ang hinahabol natin, hindi maulit ang trahedyang ito at talaga namang mapagdiinan sa pamamagitan ng mga kasong isasampa sa lahat ng nagtulung-tulong para magkaroon ng ganitong trahedya,” he said during a press conference held at the Kalayaan Hall of Malacañang Palace.
The President noted that one of the charges that could be leveled against those responsible for the fire is “reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide.”
Describing the incident as a “tragedy waiting to happen,” President Aquino said multiple violations of the Fire Code have been found in the case of the Kentex factory fire, among them the lack of a protected fire exit, and the lack of a fire sprinkler system, fire detection and alarm system.
He also criticized the city government of Valenzuela for issuing the Kentex factory owners a business permit and a certificate of occupancy despite the lack of a fire safety inspection certificate.
The President further said that immediately after the incident, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) inspected 23 factories near the Kentex factory for fire safety and all of them failed.
“Twenty-three out of 23 ang may mga violations. Merong isa na sobrang dami ang violations, ipinasara na hanggang ma-correct ang mga ito,” he said.
To prevent the recurrence of the incident, the President said he has ordered the inspection of 300,000 establishments across the NCR. He however acknowledged that this is not easy.
“Hindi ganoon kadali ang proseso. Ang meron lang computerized data base dito sa mga factories na ito ay Quezon City at saka Valuenzuela. Kaya nga kailangan pulungin ni Interior Secretary Roxas para ma-compile lahat itong mga data para talagang masuyod natin lahat ang mga establisyemento,” he said.
He also saw the need to attend to the welfare of factory workers.
“Paano ba natin babalansehin ang karapatan ng manggagawa na magtrabaho sa isang maaliwalas at safe na working environment at ang karapatan nilang hindi mawalan ng trabaho? So, pipilitin natin na ma-minimize ang disruption, pero kapag talaga namang glaring na fire trap na talagang konting sunog lang, puwedeng maging matinding trahedya, obligado naman tayong protektahan ang mga manggagawa,” he explained.
Earlier during the press conference, BFP Chief Ariel Barayuga presented a scale model of the Kentex factory to show how the fire started and spread inside the building.
Also present during the press conference were Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., DILG Secretary Manuel Roxas, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. PND (ag)