• ‘Heroic’ worker in Cavite blaze succumbs to severe wounds

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    THE massive fire that razed a Japanese-owned factory inside the Cavite Export Processing Zone has claimed the life of a worker who was among the last to leave the inferno to help rescue his trapped colleagues.

    The worker, identified as Jerome Sismaet, died Saturday night as he succumbed to severe third-degree burns.

    Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director General Charito Plaza on Sunday disclosed that Sismaet was one of the line leaders of House Technology Industries (HTI) in General Trias, Cavite.

    Sismaet was trained for various tasks during emergencies, the PEZA chief said. Plaza also confirmed that Sismaet was among the last persons to come out of the burned building.

    “It was a heroic act, and we really appreciate what the late Jerome did. They did their jobs assigned to them as line leaders,” Plaza told The Manila Times.

    The Associated Labor Unions (ALU) blamed the government for the death of Sismaet and the injuries sustained by about a hundred other workers.

    “The ALU is saddened over the death of Jerome [Sismaet] last night. His death could have been avoided had the government learned and applied the lessons from the deadly Kentex fire in May 2015 that killed 74 workers. We feel anger that Jerome had to die due to avoidable workplace mishaps like what happened in HTI,” said Alan Tanjusay, ALU spokesperson, on Sunday.

    HTI, one of the firms under the HRD Group of Companies, has promised to give all victims of the fire financial support, as well as educational assistance and jobs to the children of workers.

    Plaza said PEZA would also provide assistance to all HTI employees, numbering around 16,000, especially those who were on duty when the fire broke out.

    She said an assessment and evaluation meeting would be held today at the PEZA office to determine what really happened and what else could be done to ensure the safety of workers.

    Invited to the meeting, she said, were representatives of all firms under the HRD group of companies and other firms in the Cavite economic zone, fire marshals, labor officials, and safety engineers among others.

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