PEZA finds no violations by HTI in Cavite fire

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 06 2017 05:49 PM

PEZA finds no violations by HTI in Cavite fire 1
A screen-captured image shows the on-going fire at the Housing Technology Industries (HTI) building in the Cavite Economic Zone in Rosario, Cavite. Val Cuenca, ABS-CBN News

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) has not found any violation committed by House Technology Industries (HTI) in the massive fire that gutted its building inside the Cavite Economic Zone late last week. 

Speaking to reporters Monday noon, PEZA Chief Charito Plaza said that although the formal investigation of the fire has yet to be concluded, there are no indications that HTI and its parent company HRD Singapore failed to comply with fire safety and occupational health and safety standards, based on the results of PEZA's inspections that were regularly conducted twice every year. 

The company also had on its inventory six firetrucks which were on standby to respond to such emergencies. 

"Every year, PEZA conducts a fire safety competition, and the HRD group of companies always top the competitions," Plaza explained.

The PEZA chief added that there were 746 workers on duty on the early evening of Feb. 1 when the fire broke out, of whom 104 were brought to the hospital due to injuries. One worker died over the weekend. 

She explained that most of those who were injured were "line leaders" trained to get their coworkers out of danger during such emergency. The lone fatality Jerome Sismaet sustained fatal injuries while trying to save some of his co-workers.

On Monday, PEZA officials met with representatives of HTI, who assured that they will shoulder all the expenses and extend financial assistance to the fire casualties. 

HTI employed over 13,000 workers. 

"The plan is that all the employees will continuously be paid, including those injured. They let the employees do the reporting, sooner they will be assigned to four other sister employees of HTI located inside the economic zone," Plaza said. 

She added that PEZA will also give medals of honor to Sigmate and to other workers injured while trying to evacuate their coworkers to safety.

Plaza, meanwhile, appealed to netizens not to spread false pictures and information. 

Over the weekend, several pictures, mostly of fatalities from the tragic Kentex fire in Valenzuela City, were distributed over social media, claiming they were killed during the recent fire. 

"Sa social media nakikiusap lang ako wag naman nating pasobrahan at gagawa tayo ng kwento na hindi totoo," she said.

HTI from Japan is one of Cavite Economic Zone's biggest locators, with a total investment of P5.3 billion. The company's total exports amount to US$775.9 million. 

Plaza said, last week's fire cost over P15 billion in total damages. 

Meanwhile, the PEZA is now looking to revisit its system on disaster response, following last week's tragedy. 

On Monday, it created an assessment and post-audit committee to analyse what really happened and identify the zone's strengths and weaknesses. This includes assessing what type of training and equipment PEZA needs to acquire in responding to disasters in a magnitude similar to last week's fire.