News Briefs: February 6, 2017

HTI building to be torn down to search for bodies

CAVITE – Investigators will be dismantling what remains of the House Technology Industries (HTI) facility that burned down at the Cavite Export Processing Zone, authorities said on Monday, February 6.  

Citing the report of the team composed of fire and crime investigators, Cavite Governor Jesus Crispin Remulla said in a Facebook post: "50 % of the total area has been searched. The rest are under the collapsed roof. No human remains recovered so far. We will be needing heavy machinery to search under the debris. This means the building will be dismantled."   

Fire hit the 6-hectare facility on Wednesday, February 1, and was declared out only on Friday afternoon. Investigators were able to enter the premises Saturday morning. The crisis management team, headed by the governor, said it would release the report of the probe as soon as it is completed. 

All 3,000-plus workers who were on shift when the fire broke had been accounted for. Of the 126 who were injured, one died in the hospital, while 5 remain in critical condition. – Rappler.com 

 

Leftist reps seek House probe into Cavite factory fire 

MANILA – Members of the left-leaning Makabayan bloc filed House Resolution 747 on Monday, February 6, calling for the committee on labor and employment to probe the fire that hit the House Technology Industries (HTI) compound at the Cavite Export Processing Zone.  

“We want a full disclosure on whether the company had complied with occupational health and safety standards," said Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Emmi de Jesus, one of the authors.   

Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Arlene Brosas, meanwhile, said, “Holding them accountable will send a signal to other companies to never compromise on workers’ occupational health and safety.” 

The Cavite EPZA is under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority. Initial investigation showed the fire was caused by a mechanical accident, with damage estimated between P12 billion and P15 billion. – Mara Cepeda

 

 

Abalos' arraignment for Comelec graft case to push through February 9

MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court has affirmed graft charges against former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr for the purchase of two Toyota Revo units worth P1.7 million without public bidding in 2003.

In a resolution promulgated on February 2, the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division denied Abalos' motion to quash and urgent prayer to postpone his February 9 arraignment.

Abalos argued that his right to speedy disposition of cases was violated when the Ombudsman took 8 years to investigate the matter.

The Ombudsman explained that the preliminary investigation only took 3 years, but the complaint was filed only in 2013. The Sandiganbayan sided with the Ombudsman, saying, “although the complaint is dated October 9, 2008, the fact is that it was filed only on August 13, 2013.” – Lian Buan 

 

Ozamiz mayor, vice mayor accused of graft post bail

MANILA – Ozamiz City Mayor Reynado Parojinog Sr and his daughter, Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog Echavez, have posted bail of P30,000 each after the anti-graft court ordered their arrest over the award of a contract to a family-owned company in 2008. 

In 2008, the older Parojinog awarded the contract to renovate the city gymnasium to the Parojinog and Sons Construction Company, where his daughter, Parojinog-Echavez, serves as managing partner. The company was also listed in the mayor's Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth.

The father-and-daughter tandem was also previously linked by President Rodrigo Duterte to illegal drugs trade. – Lian Buan