PNoy orders fire safety probe of 300,000 firms

By Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at Jun 01 2015 04:39 PM | Updated as of Jun 02 2015 04:07 AM

Says 23 companies near Kentex failed safety standards

MANILA - President Benigno Aquino III vowed there won't be a repeat of the Kentex fire disaster as he ordered government agencies and local government units (LGUs) to rein in on erring companies.

In a press conference Monday, Aquino said the results of the official probe into the fire support the filing of administrative and criminal charges – including reckless imprudence resulting to multiple homicide – against those responsible for the Kentex disaster.

Aquino said the Kentex fire, which resulted in the death of 72 people in early May, was a “tragedy waiting to happen.”

The Bureau of Fire Protection explained prior to Aquino’s speech that the tragedy was due to a welding activity that caused combustible materials to catch fire. The lack of sprinklers and protected exit areas eventually led the workers to their death.

Aquino said more than 300,000 establishments in the National Capital Region alone will undergo inspections. “We expect owners to complain. But no one is exempt from following the law," he said.

He said 23 companies in the vicinity of Kentex in Valenzuela were immediately inspected days after the fire, and not one was able to follow the requisites on safety standards.

Aquino said government agencies, led by the Department of Labor and Employment, will prepare the needed assistance for workers that will be affected by the temporary closure of establishments.


Aquino noted that Kentex was only given once, in 2012, a Fire Safety Inspection Permit Certificate in its almost three decades of operations.

He said the certificate was even questionable since the factory did not have sprinklers and protected exit areas.

“We are doing a lot of actions leading to the filing of possible cases,” he said.

He noted the local government unit “knew the requirement for a fire safety certificate, but it still gave the company a business permit and certificate of occupancy.”

He said no one will be exempt from the rule of law, including those who gave the questionable fire safety permit.

Aquino also wants CJC Manpower, the subcontractor of Kentex, to answer to labor standard violations. Initial investigation revealed the manpower agency is “owned by a 19-year-old student.”

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz described CJC as a “labor-only contractor,” which is illegal under labor laws.