We’ll make culprits pay for Valenzuela deaths – Roxas
MANILA, Philippines – The “full force” of the government will be deployed to investigate a factory fire in Valenzuela City that claimed at least 72 lives, and hold make those responsible for the tragedy pay, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II said on Thursday, May 14.
“Hindi tama na merong 72 tayong mga kababayan na namatay dito sa pangyayaring ito, talagang 'kinalulungkot ko ito. Ang magagawa ko para sa kanilang mga naulila ay alamin kung ano talaga ang nangyari at panagutin kung sino man ang dapat managot,” Roxas said in a chance interview with reporters when he inspected the site.
(It’s not right that 72 of our countrymen died in this fire. This saddens me. What I can do for the families of those who died is to find out what really happened and go after those who are responsible for it and make them accountable.)
Roxas, who oversees the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Bureau of Fire Protection, said both agencies will be tapped to investigate the fire. The PNP’s Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) have been deployed to assist the BFP in the recovery and identification of bodies, as well as in the processing of the crime scene.
A blaze swept through Kentex Manufacturing Corporation in Barangay Ugong, Valenzuela City, on Wednesday, May 13. At least 72 factory workers were confirmed dead as several others remained missing. The bodies retrieved from the site were mostly burnt beyond recognition.
The PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), meanwhile, has been tasked with interviewing the 4 survivors of the fire, as well as the security guards who were on duty on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters, Roxas pinpointed several questions that investigators will have to answer:
- When was the last fire inspection on the factory conducted?
- Who allowed a welding project inside a compound with flammable chemicals?
- Why were there steel barriers on the windows of the factory’s second floor?
- Of the 72 dead, why were 69 stuck on the second floor? Did they run there for safety or was that really their assignment?
- Who is accountable for the factory’s “pakyawan system” or system wherein workers are employed on a casual basis?
“We will set a deadline once we know the beginning facts – what’s available, what’s not,” added Roxas.
Citing initial reports, Roxas said that the factory has over 200 employees. It remains unclear, however, how many of the employees were present when the fire razed the factory. Assuming only half were in the factory that Wednesday, at least 20 possibly remain unaccounted for.
“'Yung may ari, plant manager, kung sino man namimigay ng permits (The owners, the plant manager, whoever gives out permits),” said Roxas, when asked by reporters is the investigation would include the factory owners.
Initial reports indicate that the fire was caused by a welding activity, which in turn enflamed flammable chemicals also stored within the compound. – Rappler.com