MANILA, Philippines - A day before he leaves for Japan, President Aquino will announce today that criminal and administrative charges would be filed against those responsible for the Kentex Manufacturing Corp. factory fire that killed 72 people in Valenzuela City last May 13.
Malacañang sources said among those to be charged are the owners of the Kentex slippers manufacturing firm, several officials of the Valenzuela City government and some officers of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).
The source refused to identify those who will be charged to avoid pre-empting the President’s press conference at the Kalayaan Hall in Malacañang.
Aquino earlier directed Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to determine what charges could be filed against those held liable for the deadly fire.
Aquino aims to serve notice to the general public and local government units nationwide that the government really means business in implementing the Fire Safety Code.
“This is to give justice to the 72 persons who perished in the fire,” said the source, who added that the decision was the result of the inter-agency task force investigation that was headed by Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II.
The task force that included members of the BFP, National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine National Police and the Department of Justice was activated following the Kentex fire.
This is based on an executive order issued by former President Fidel Ramos that required a thorough investigation of fires of such magnitude that concerns public interest.
Investigation showed that the fire in Kentex was caused by sparks from the welding operation near the factory door which ignited chemicals that were stored in the area.
Three of the 72 fatalities died of asphyxia or smoke inhalation, while the 69 other sustained fourth degree burns.
Aquino has made it clear to all government officials that the Kentex fire should not be repeated and that LGUs should never grant permits or licenses to establishments that fail to acquire the fire safety inspection certificate from the BFP.
BFP safety inspection is a requirement before LGUs could issue permits and licenses to establishments nationwide.
Aquino has instructed the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to make sure that laws on fire safety should be strictly complied with to prevent a repeat of the Kentex fire. – With Michael Punongbayan
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