CEBU, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) ordered the suspension of Universal Robina Corporation’s (URC) Mandaue City facility and fined the firm P100,000 for the death last June 2 of a worker operating a sugar pulverizing machine.
Marites Mercado, head of the tri-city field office of the DOLE in Central Visayas (DOLE-7) told Rappler in an interview on Monday, June 14, that they only found out about the incident a day after the June 2 accident that killed 32-year old contractual worker Stephen Corilla.
Mercado said the DOLE imposed the sanctions on June 6, for violations of Department Order 198. The DOLE order lays out the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act No. 11058 or “An Act Strengthening The Compliance Of Companies With Occupational Safety And Health Standards”, which President Rodrigo Duterte signed on August 17, 2018.
URC paid the fine on June 7 at the tri-city field office in Cebu City, Mercado said.
A DOLE investigation at the site found occupational safety and health standards deficiencies, the labor officer said in a mix of English and Cebuano.
“As of now, the work stoppage order on the sugar pulverizer machine is still ongoing. We are still waiting to be given authority by URC to conduct another inspection to verify if they have already complied with occupational safety and health standards,” Mercado said.
Aime Corilla, Stephen’s widow, told Rappler in a phone interview on Wednesday, June 15, that they will be filing a civil and criminal case against the company.
“Nangita pa gihapon mi ug hustisya. Manawagan pud mi nga managot unta tong mga taw nga involved atong time,” she said. (We’re still seeking justice. We are calling on those responsible to be held accountable.)
Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan promised to provide legal assistance to Corilla’s heirs when he attended the worker’s funeral on June 9.
“Misaad kita nga kita na ang bahala sa pagkuha og abugado nga motabang kanila sa pagkab-ot sa hustisya nga gihandum sa iyang pamilya,” he said. (We told them that we will provide a lawyer to help them get the justice they seek.)
What happened to Stephen Corilla?
On June 2, Corilla was on duty, cleaning a sugar pulverizing machine at URC’s Mandaue facility in Barangay Tabok.
At around 1 pm, he got caught up in the machine when it was suddenly switched on. Corilla suffered severe injuries and was pronounced dead after he was brought to Eversley Childs Sanitarium and General Hospital.
A report prepared by the Institute of Occupational Health and Safety Development (IOHSAD) and other labor agencies said Corilla was only two weeks into his work as a contract employee.
“Lacking proper training and information on the machine’s status and maintenance, he proceeded with the task as ordered,” the document read.
After the incident happened, the management failed to immediately report the incident to the police or any DOLE representative, the report added, which Mercado confirmed.
Labor groups like ALSA Kontraktwal Cebu and Alyansa sa mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo – Kilusang Mayo Uno (AMA Sugbo-KMU) have demanded justice for Corilla.
“We amplify the call for justice even more now because URC has evaded responsibility towards Corilla and his family, by saying he was only a “third-party” contractual worker hired under an agency, even though the machine that killed him is owned by URC.,” AMA Sugbo-KMU said in a statement.
What did URC say?
“It is with great sadness that we confirm the passing of one of our third-party workers due to an incident at the workplace that is now being investigated. We are fully cooperating with the authorities in this effort,” read URC’s statement.
According to URC public relations director Viveca Singson, the company and the agency that hired Corilla have already reached out to his family and provided them with assistance.
“Nihatag sila ug abuloy pero ara na katong haya sa akong bana (They provided some donations but only at the time of my husband’s wake),” Corilla’s wife said.
Corilla was laid to rest in Cattleya Gardens and Memorial Park in Cordova on Saturday, June 11.
He left behind three kids aged 12, 7, and 5. –Rappler.com
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