Kin of Valenzuela fire victims sue Roxas, Baldoz

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 08 2015 01:12 PM | Updated as of Jun 08 2015 11:42 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) – Majority of the families of the victims of the Kentex factory fire will file charges against Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, and other high-ranking officials of DOLE and Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).

Aside from Roxas and Baldoz, also included in the suit are DOLE - NCR Director Alex Avila, DOLE – NCR labor compliance officer Joseph Vedasto, BFP director Ariel Barayuga, and BFP-NCR Director Sergio Malupeng Soriano Jr.

Lawyer Remigio Saladero, who represents 50 families, said they will file an administrative charge before the Office of the Ombudsman for negligence in the performance of official duties against the officials.

''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,

"A significant amount of time elapsed without any action conducted by the [BFP] personnel with respect to Kentex,'' he said.

Saladero said they will also file charges against the owners of the factory.

However, Saladero said they are leaving it to the Department of the Interior and Local Government to investigate the local government of Valenzuela City.

''The DILG has issued statements to the effect that they are going to go after the LGU. We leave it to them to file the necessary charges,'' he said.

Saladero said lawyers will not object if their clients want to accept compensation.

''The value of human life is so great that it cannot be compensated, but (we are filing charges) in order to serve as a lesson to others who might be committing the same violation,'' he said.