MANILA, Philippines – A labor group in Mindanao is pushing for an independent probe into the tragic Davao City mall fire that killed dozens of call center agents.

In a statement on Tuesday, December 26, Kilusang Mayo Uno in Southern Mindanao region (KMU-SMR) said heads must roll after the fire hit NCCC Mall of Davao in Matina.

“While we share this moment of grief, we have to raise accountability on why this incident happened,” said Carlo Olalo, spokesperson of KMU-SMR.

A thorough, independent, and immediate investigation is needed to bring accountability and justice to the deaths of the 37 workers, he explained.

The death toll of December’s worst fire incident rose to 37, as the remaining bodies that were missing for days were discovered on Monday, December 25, authorities confirmed.

But information as to what caused the fire, said Olalo, remains sketchy.

“And no evacuation system was made to bring the SSI employees to safety,” Olalo said.

SSI, or Survey Sampling International, is an American outsourcing company with subsidiaries worldwide. Its Philippine unit operated one office on the fourth level of NCCC Mall.

The 37 SSI employees were reported missing when the fire broke out on December 23. Hopes were high that they could be saved as witnesses and rescuers saw “signs of life” when they found hands sticking out of a window. On the following day, a body of those trapped was found.

The casualties belong to a roster of 500 employees of SSI which in its website said is “a global leader in digital research.”
KMU’s statement re-echoed the previous demand of the Business Process Outsourcing Industry Employees Network (BIEN) for justice and accountability.

“The mere fact that scores of employees were trapped in a building already raises much suspicion to the BPO company’s compliance with occupational safety standards—such as early warning system and prompt evacuation as well as adequate and accessible emergency exits,” BIEN said in a statement issued on December 24.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has vowed that there will be an investigation into the incident and said charges will be filed against those found to be responsible for the tragic incident. (

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