Group seeks wider Kentex probe

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A consumer rights group wants the congressional probe on the deadly fire at a slipper factory in Valenzuela City to include the lax implementation of fire safety protocols.

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The fire in the factory of Kentex Manufacturing Corp that killed 72 people “underscores the need for strict implementation of fire safety laws,” said the National Coalition of Filipino Consumers (NCFC), an umbrella organization of urban-based consumer groups in the country, in a statement.

The consumer group noted that Petronas Liquified Petroleum Gas Terminal in the City of Naga, Cebu was one of the cases wherein the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and the local government unit were lax in requiring a Fire Safety Inspection Certificate (FSIC).

“It is high time the Fire Code of the Philippines be strictly and evenly enforced, without fear or favor. In fact, Congress, through the Labor Committee headed by Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexis Nograles, which is now investigating the Kentex tragedy, should not limit its investigation to the LGU of Valenzuela but should also look into all LGU’s and units of the BFP,” the NCFC said in a press statement.

The group said the practice of issuing a business permit despite the absence of an FSIC is rampant.

The NCFC said records would show the Petronas LPG terminal in the City of Naga, which has a capacity of over 4.5 million liters has been operating without an FSIC since 2014, and was only issued provisional business permits by the LGU, similar to the one issued by the Valenzuela city government to Kentex.

The BFP in Central Visayas and the City of Naga has not acted on the July 15, 2014 ruling of then national fire marshal Chief Supt. Carlito Romero to measure the distance of the giant LPG spherical tanks of the Petronas facility.

The Implementing Rules and Regulation of the RA 9514 requires aboveground LPG tanks with capacity of more than 378,000 liters to be built at least 91 meters from the boundary of adjoining properties.

“Petronas’ 4.5 million liter tanks are more than 11 times the capacity of the benchmark of at least 91 meters safety distance from the boundary of the adjoining property. Thus, the obligation to comply with the law is at least 11 times more compelling. While the Kentex plant was a killer plant, the Petronas tanks are potentially super-killer tanks,” the consumer group said.

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