Valenzuela factory fire ruling ‘pro-LP,’ say labor groups

Mar. 07, 2016
Five days after the fire razed Kentex Manufacturing Inc., militant groups in Davao City held a candle-lighting activity and offered prayers for the 72 workers who died during the incident. (Medel V. Hernani/

Five days after the factory fire in Valenzuela City last year, militant groups in Davao City held a candle-lighting activity and offered prayers for the 72 workers who died in the fire. (Medel V. Hernani/

DAVAO CITY — Labor groups expressed worry that the recent decision of the Office of the Ombudsman to dismiss local officials does not hold national officials accountable over the slipper factory fire in Valenzuela City last year.

Rather than seeking justice for the victims of the Kentex factory fire, Kilusang Mayo Uno said Monday, March 7, that the Ombudsman’s decision missed  the liability of government officials in the incident.

“It is about deflecting blame from Roxas himself, Labor Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz and other top government officials for the death of many workers in the worst factory fire in Philippine history.  It is also about attacking (Valenzuela City Mayor Rex) Gatchalian, who is the opponent of Aquino’s and Roxas’ party-mate at the city level. It is also about attacking the campaign team of leading presidential Grace Poe, whose spokesperson is Gatchalian,” said Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary general.

The Ombudsman ordered the dismissal of Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian and six others including Valenzuela Business Permit and Licensing Office (BPLO) Officer-in-Charge Renchie May Padayao; BPLO Licensing Officer IV Eduardo Carreon; Valenzuela City Fire Marshal F/Superintendent Mel Jose Lagan; Fire Safety Chief F/Senior Inspector Edgrover Oculam; Fire Safety Inspector SF02 Rolando Avendan and Fire officer Ramon Maderazo after finding probable cause to charge them with reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicides and multiple physical injuries. The factory fire killed at least 72 workers.

“…Carpio-Morales, followed Aquino and Roxas, and not the families of the victims and the survivors,” said Adonis in a statement.

The families of the victims and the survivors of the Kentex factory fire filed a case before the Ombudsman against Roxas, Baldoz and top government officials.

Ammied Rada, coordinator of Justice for Kentex Workers Alliance said they requested the Ombudsman on June 8, last year to investigate for possible filing of administrative charges several national officials, including Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Metro Manila Director Alex Avila, Labor laws compliance officer Joseph Vedasto, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Director Ariel Barayuga, BFP Metro Manila Director Sergio Malupeng Soriano Jr, Valenzuela City Fire Marshall Mel Jose Lagan, and Fire Safety Enforcement Section Chief Ed Groover Oculam.

Rada, who lost two siblings in the fire, said the high-ranking officials of the Department of Labor and Employment is clearly accountable since the agency gave the factory owners certificate of compliance securing the welfare and safety of the workers.

The Department of Interior and Local Government is also accountable for not closing the factory even if it was not given fire clearance.

“Sa tingin namin, dapat pambansang pamahalaan ang nangangasiwa sa kaligtasan ng mga manggagawa. Masyado itong importante para ipaubaya sa lokal na pamahalaan (Workplace safety should be the responsibility of the national government. It is too important to be left to local government units, whose inspection of workplace safety compliance would tend to vary),” said Rada.

Adonis said: “With its recent decision on the Kentex factory fire, the Office of the Ombudsman has again shown that it is an instrument of Pres. Noynoy Aquino and his anointed presidential Mar Roxas and not a neutral dispenser of justice.” (

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