DOJ ruling on Kentex blaze ‘obviously politicized’–Hicap

PARTY-LIST lawmaker on Saturday criticized the “obviously politicized” recommendation of the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the Kentex fire.

Party-list Rep. Fernando L. Hicap of Anakpawis said that DOJ recommendation has excluded the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole), the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) from accountability.

“The DOJ is acquitting agencies under the Aquino administration, though, it is clear that if only they properly did their mandate, the deaths of many workers could be avoided,” Hicap said.

Earlier, a special panel of the DOJ has recommended the filing of criminal charges against Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian, the owner of Kentex Manufacturing Corp. and other local officials following the Kentex fire that left 72 people dead.

However, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said that the panel recommendations would still undergo a preliminary investigation by the department.

Moreover, Hicap, who filed House Resolution 2099 that called on the House to investigate the tragedy, said that during the congressional inquiry in May, the labor law compliance officer from the Dole admitted issuance of Certificate of Compliance to Kentex Manufacturing in September 2014 amid obvious fire and safety hazard existed at its factory in Valenzuela.

The lawmaker, quoting a statement of the Justice For Kentex Victims, a group of the victims’ families and the Kilusang Mayo Uno, said that the BFP, which is under the DILG did not issue a Fire Safety Inspection Certificate for 2014 and 2015, but did nothing to close down or close the operation of the factory.

Hicap, meanwhile, slammed the Dole for allowing the subcontractor operations of CJC Manpower Agency that is not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Dole, saying that the labor department recorded only 46 workers, while it actually has 200 workers.

“The twin criminal negligence of the Dole and the BFP led to the deaths of Kentex workers, the DOJ should include them on the list of those to be charged,” Hicap said. 

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Jovee Marie de la Cruz

Jovee Marie Dela Cruz is working as a reporter in the country's leading business newspaper the BusinessMirror since 2013.
Ms. Dela Cruz, who is in the media industry for 8 years, is currently covering the House of Representatives.
She graduated from Universidad De Manila with a degree of Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 2008.
At present, Ms. Dela Cruz is finishing up her master's degree in communication at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP).
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