DOLE conducts internal probe after Kentex fire

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 08 2015 03:41 PM | Updated as of Jun 08 2015 11:41 PM

MANILA - The Department of Labor and Employment on Monday said it is up to the Ombudsman to determine if the complaint against officials of DOLE and the Bureau of Fire Protection has basis.

The complaint alleges negligence of official duty in connection with the deadly Kentex factory blaze.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said there is an ongoing internal investigation to determine the culpability of labor officials.

She said the DOLE has released notices to four personnel, including DOLE-NCR director Alex Avila, to explain their side.

"We expect that before the end of the week, all of them have submitted explanation on why they should not be changed administratively and on basis of all the submission, the administrative complaints committee will be tasked to evaluate whether there is any basis and what appropriate cases will be filed against them," she said.

Lawyer Remigio Saladero, who represents 50 families of the victims of the Kentex factory fire, said they will file an administrative charge before the Office of the Ombudsman for negligence in the performance of official duties against the officials. Included in the suit are DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, DOLE - NCR Director Alex Avila, DOLE – NCR labor compliance officer Joseph Vedasto, as well as BFP director Ariel Barayuga.

''They are supposed to monitor their personnel to do the necessary inspection with respect to compliance of Kentex Manufacturing Corp. to labor and fire standards,'' Saladero told ANC.

''Under the principle of command responsibility, we deem wise to ask the Ombudsman to conduct an investigation to see if these government officials would be liable."

The May 13 fire claimed the lives of 72 people, mostly factory workers. It was later learned that the factory was allowed to operate despite violations of the fire safety code.

The local government and the BFP have since been trading accusations regarding the incident.

Saladero said the evidence they have against DOLE is a certificate of compliance issued to Kentex for having satisfied the requirements of occupational safety standards despite the supposed violations.

Saladero said the BFP should be held liable for its supposed failure to call out Kentex for fire safety violations.

Meanwhile, the DOLE is set to issue a cease-and-desist order against CJC Manpower, the subcontractor of Kentex, for failing to comply with labor laws.