Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. has sought for a Senate inquiry into the massive fire that killed 72 workers in a slipper and rubber factory in Valenzuela City.
Marcos, member of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, on Wednesday filed Senate Resolution 1365 directing the appropriate committee, in aid of legislation, to look into the circumstances that led to the May 13 fire that razed the Kentex Manufacturing Corporation.
In his resolution, Marcos stressed the need for legislative measures to enhance and strengthen occupational safety and health standards. Initial reports said the slipper factory had violated safety standards and several labor laws.
“We need to strengthen existing laws on safety and health in the workplace to prevent a repeat of what the ILO itself has described as a preventable accident,” he said.
Marcos noted that Section 3, Article 13 of the Constitution provides that the State shall guarantee full protection to labor, particularly the entitlement of workers to humane conditions of work.
The Department of Labor and Employment earlier said Kentex had passed safety and health inspection in September 2014, or 8 months prior to the incident.
"That a factory like Kentex could pass the scrutiny of our labor inspectors calls into question how thorough these compliance checks are. The Senate inquiry will also look into the level and quality of cooperation between national agencies and local governments not only on fire prevention drives but also in promoting occupational safety and health standards in various workplaces," he added.
The Senate inquiry will also look into the regularity of occupational safety and health inspections and policies, as well as fire inspections. "Kung once in a blue moon ito, ang mensahe sa mga workers ay bahala na kayo sa buhay niyo. Sabi nga ng isang manggagawa ng Kentex, limang taon na siya sa factory ni isang fire drill ay di niya naranasan."
The senator from Ilocos Norte observed that there has been some blame-tossing between the Bureau of Fire Protection and the city government of Valenzuela.
"The Senate probe will be impartial, thorough, and constructive. The bereaved families deserve some answers. I would also be interested to know what more needs to be done to prevent a repeat of the Kentex fire," Marcos said.