CAVITE, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – All workers rendered jobless by the fire that hit the House Technology Industries (HTI) building at the Cavite Export Processing Zone will be called back to work, Governor Jesus Crispin Remulla said on Friday afternoon, February 3.
Citing the commitment made by the Japanese firm – the biggest employer in EPZA – the governor said HTI employees who are in regular posts will be absorbed by its sister companies that are also located within the export processing zone.
“Everybody will be hired back,” he said.
Remulla, who chairs the crisis management committee, also said HTI will make the necessary adjustments for those who are currently jobless. “In 3 months’ time, baka maibalik na (they might be called to work again),” he said.
The HTI facility, where housing materials for export to Japan are manufactured, has about 15,000 employees, both regular and contractual.
“Those who are in need will be helped. We will try to help with our limited resources in the province. And the company is committed to help all of them,” he said.
HTI, he said, will give medical assistance to those who were hospitalized.
Reparations will also be arranged if needed, he said.
In his press conference Friday morning, Remulla also announced that the number of injured workers has climbed to 126, with 6 of them in critical condition.
Citing records from the human resources department of HTI, the governor also announced that only 3 workers are unaccounted for – down from 20 the night before. By Friday evening, all 20 workers had surfaced.
He said two of those in critical condition are in the intensive care unit of a local hospital.
The governor corrected an early advisory about a fatality. “Ibang tao pala ang namatay sa hospital. It was a mistake because we have limited information.” (The person who died at the hospital was not a fire victim. It was a mistake since information relayed to us was limited.)
He said these numbers may rise once investigators are able to penetrate building premises. (READ: LIST: Workers injured in Cavite export processing zone fire)
The fire was later declared out at 4:15 pm, almost two full days since it started early evening of February 1.
Initial findings attribute the cause of fire to mechanical accident. According to Bureau of Fire Protection chief Bobby Baruelo, the building houses combustible materials, causing an immediate spreading of the fire.
Authorities estimate the cost of damage at P12 billion to P15 billion.
This is not the first time an HTI structure caught fire. According to the fire chief, a warehouse owned by the Japanese firm burned down in 2012. There were no casualties.
No state of calamity
In a text message sent to Rappler Friday morning, Remulla said that the provincial government will no longer declare a state of calamity. “We can manage,” he said.
This comes after a meeting with the provincial board Thursday evening on whether they should declare a state of calamity to make way for faster clearing operations.
Remulla said “we can assist with our [emergency] budget” of P7 million to 10 million.
The labor and social welfare departments, as well as the provincial government, have pledged assistance to the victims.
Companies within export zones are under the authority of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, not the local governments. – Rappler.com
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