DOLE to probe contractor for lapses

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SCAFFOLDINGS It was on this makeshift chapel that Pope Francis celebrated the Mass at the Tacloban airport. The roofing material and the sound boxes are attached to the scaffolding (encircled) that extends on both ends of the chapel. A scaffolding gave way to the pounding winds brought by typhoon Amang, killing volunteer Kristel Padasas in the process. AFP PHOTO

SCAFFOLDINGS It was on this makeshift chapel that Pope Francis celebrated the Mass at the Tacloban airport. The roofing material
and the sound boxes are attached to the scaffolding (encircled) that extends on both ends of the chapel. A scaffolding gave way to the pounding winds brought by typhoon Amang, killing volunteer Kristel Padasas in the process. AFP PHOTO

The contractor responsible for setting up the scaffoldings that supported the sound boxes used during the Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in Tacloban City on Saturday may face sanctions if it would be proven that negligence caused the tragic accident.
The scaffolding reportedly gave way and hit Catholic Relief Services (CRS) volunteer worker Kristel Padasas, killing her almost instantaneously.

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This as the officers and members of the CRS posted a statement in its website expressing its sympathy to Padasas’ father Paulino and mother Judy.

The CRS Philippines, it reads, is mourning over the loss of Padasas as it condoles with her family, friends and loved ones.

The 27-year-old Kristel was based in Samar and worked on a recovery project for super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan). She died after a scaffold reportedly hit her on the head. It appeared that the scaffold was not able to hold the weight of the sound boxes as typhoon Amang brought strong winds to the Tacloban City airport, where the Mass was held.

The city was placed under storm signal number 2, which means winds ranging from 61 to 100 kilometers per hour.

In calling the probe, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said on Monday that her office will conduct an investigation on the incident, beginning with what has already been established by police investigators.

She added that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will focus on the contractor’s compliance to safety and health regulations.

Baldoz said that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) may also provide assistance to Padasas’ parents, as the latter’s mother is reported to be working in Hong Kong.

She added that the government may provide help to Padasas’ mother “in case she will ask for assistance,” which may include livelihood and other assistance not related to medical deaths.

Padasas’ mother was scheduled to arrive Monday night from Hong Kong. Baldoz said her office is tracing her so she could be given the assistance she needs.

“Her dedication to the people affected by the typhoon extended beyond her official work with CRS,” the CRS statement reads.

“She traveled a great distance to volunteer at today’s papal mass and to remember the victims of Typhoon Haiyan,” it added.

The CRS remembered Padasas as jolly and reliable.

“Her colleagues remember her as someone who loved to laugh and who was always ready to assist outside her normal duties. She found great joy in being able to contribute to the recovery effort by working directly with communities and families,” the statement also read.

Pope Francis consoled Paulino on Saturday, inviting him to the Nunciature.

Paulino said the Holy Father prayed for the soul of his daughter. The Pope also gave him two rosaries and three medallions.

During the Pope’s encounter with the youth at the University of Sto. Tomas (UST), Francis opened his statement with a prayer for Kristel, inviting everyone to offer a minute of silence.

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