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Ph gov’t calls to prevent deadly fires in the workplace

MANILA, Philippines -The government wants a stronger cooperation between the labor department, the Bureau of Fire Protection and local government units to ensure that labor laws are observed in the country to avoid a repeat of the deadly accident that killed many laborers in Valenzuela City, a Palace official said on Saturday.
The European Union and the International Labor Organization raised concern over the labor conditions in the country.
In a radio interview Saturday over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan, Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said she also saw the EU and ILO reports which were based on the recent fire incident involving a footwear factory in Valenzuela.
In the ongoing investigation of the Department of Labor and Employment, Valte said a number of violations by the factory owner started to surface.
Secretary Linda Baldoz called the violations ‘immoral’ like non-compliance with regular wages, poor working conditions and others, she said adding the government doesn’t want those to happen again.
“That’s why the Labor Department is also intensifying their inspections when it comes to the industrial work places like the one in Valenzuela,” according to Valte.
The Department of Interior and Local Government headed by Secretary Manuel Roxas is also making sure that the Fire Code through the Bureau of Fire Protection is implemented and that permits are not issued just because it is needed but because it should be based on compliance with the Fire and Building Code.
Local governments also have their part, she said. Their role is integral in terms of issuing most of the permits that are necessary for operations, as well as the inspection of industrial work places, Valte said.
Asked to comment on proposals to transfer the DILG’s control over the Bureau of Fire Protection to the provincial governors, she said the proposal must be thoroughly studied.
On suggestion of Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago to make the law harsher for those violating the fire safety guidelines, she said only Congress can push such legislation.
“The executive only implements the existing legislation, and if the good senator is proposing heavier penalties, then I’m pretty sure we can expect Senator Santiago to lead the charge on that,” she said.
More than 70 people died and and many others were injured when a huge fire broke out in Valenzuela City this week.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.