Press Release
May 20, 2015

Villar seeks swift justice for Kentex workers

Unlike the case of the Ozone Disco fire which took almost 20 years to convict erring individuals, Sen. Cynthia A. Villar said she hopes the delivery of justice for the 72 workers who perished in the Kentex Factory fire in Valenzuela will be swift in order to send a signal that government is committed to enforce its laws.

"We thought we learned from the Ozone Disco incident 19 years ago but here comes another deplorable fire incident that killed 72 workers. Something is patently wrong in the mechanisms in place for something this terrible to happen again," Villar said.

"I just hope we don't have to wait for another 20 years. Let the legal process proceed smoothly for the Kentex workers and reforms in the system implemented as soon as possible," she added.

In authoring Proposed Senate Resolution No. 1346, Villar seeks to conduct an inquiry on the mechanisms, rule, and guidelines in place, including the practices being done, in the actual implementation of Republic Act 9514 or the Fire Code of the Philippines, and of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) standards.

Villar said the possible violation of OSH standards in the Kentex Factory should be investigated pertaining to the prohibition on the conduct of welding operations in areas containing combustible materials and to the requirement that at least two fire exits be provided on each floor of the workplace.

Violation in the Fire Code which requires that a fire inspection of the premises be conducted prior to the issuance or renewal of occupancy permit, business permit, or permit to operate, should also be looked into, she added.

"City officials should also be held liable for administrative and criminal charges in connection with their involvement in granting safety clearance and permits to the establishment without conducting actual inspections and despite several structural defects," she added.

In 1996, the Ozone fire, dubbed as the worst fire in Philippine history, claimed 162 lives and injured 93 and caused the conviction of seven Quezon City officials for graft. Two operators of Ozone Disco were also convicted. At that time, overcrowding and the lack of a fire exit were among the violations found.

"It is incumbent upon the state to revisit and look into the practices being done in the actual implementation of the Fire Code and the OSH standards in order to find the fault in the system," Villar said.

The Nacionalista Party senator also said authorities should make sure that the families of the deceased will be properly compensated and the injured properly attended by medical care.

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