Valenzuela defends issuance of business permit to Kentex

MANILA, Philippines – The Valenzuela city government defended its issuance of a provisional business permit to the fire-hit Kentex Manufacturing Corporation despite the lack of a fire safety inspection certificate.

In its investigation of the fire that razed the footwear factory and killed 72 workers last week, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) said Kentex did not have a fire inspection certificate but was able to operate.

BFP spokesman Renato Marcial earlier said a fire safety inspection and the issuance of a certificate are needed before a company is given a permit to operate.

On Tuesday, May 19, Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian said the local government issued Kentex a provisional business permit on January 15.

Citing memorandum circular 2011-05 of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Gatchalian said it was the BFP's job to conduct fire safety inspections and notify the local government if there were business establishments that did not comply with the Fire Code of the Philippines.

The city government endorsed Kentex's provisional business permit to the BFP for inspection, but the BFP "never got back" with negative comments against the factory, the Valenzuela mayor said.

“What the LGU gave them was a provisional business permit. Now, based on that memorandum, it is the obligation of the fire marshall to make a recommendation either to revoke or grant a license to Kentex. But no action was taken by their office," he added.

Gatchalian also said it was within the city government's mandate to process and issue the provisional permit that allowed Kentex to operate.

He cited a 2010 joint memorandum circular issued by the DILG and the Department of Trade and Industry that sought to cut red tape in the processing of business permits in cities and municipalities.

To speed up business transactions, the circular encouraged local government units to set up one-stop shops to streamline the process.

Gatchalian also cited BFP's 2012 memorandum outlining the guidelines in the processing of fire safety inspection certificates in areas where the one-stop shop policy is being implemented. 

“It is clear that we are not superseding any law here, but rather we are just implementing what was stated in the Fire Code," Gatchalian said. – Rappler.com