8 Pasay fire victims' employer charged

By Mike Frialde, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 01 2014 08:39 AM | Updated as of Jun 01 2014 04:39 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Criminal charges have been filed against the employer of eight women workers who died in a five-hour fire in Pasay City Friday, city police chief Senior Superintendent Florencio Ortilla said yesterday.

Charges of negligence resulting in multiple homicide and physical injuries, operating a business without a permit and human trafficking have been filed against Juanito Go, 68, after eight of his employees died when the fire engulfed a two-story building in which they had been padlocked.

Go, who owns the building, is also the president of Asia Metro Tech Inc., an electronics sweatshop that assembles laptops, cell phones, DVD players and other electronics gadgets. Go was taken into police custody after the fire.

Police earlier said the eight women died of suffocation after they failed to break out of their padlocked room on the building’s second floor when the fire struck at about 12:45 a.m.

The bodies of the eight women were found embracing each other by firefighters.

Chairman Lucilla Grace Corpuz of Barangay 47 earlier told The STAR the victims were recruited as minors from Negros Oriental several years ago to work in the sweatshop.

She said they were not allowed out of the building, made to work 12-hour days without days off for salaries of only P2,000 to P3,000 per month.

Corpuz also earlier said Go has been the subject of complaints from the workers for nonpayment of salaries and for preventing them from going home to their provinces.

Nine other workers were able to escape after destroying the iron grills and air-conditioning vent on the second floor.