The first death anniversary of the 74 workers who perished in the fire that hit the Kentex Manufacturing Corporation on May 13 last year was not simply a day of remembering but also a day of renewed clamor for the Office of the Ombudsman to file charges against those responsible for the blaze at the Sandiganbayan.
Ammied Rada, coordinator of the survivors and families of the victims, on Friday told The Manila Times that there may be “big hope that the 74 victims will attain justice if the Office of the Ombudsman will finally elevate the criminal charges to the Sandiganbayan so that trial will start.”
Among those who were implicated were re-elected Valenzuela City Mayor Rexlon Gatchalian, other city government officials, Bureau of Fire Protection officials, and the owners and managers of Kentex.
Officials of the Department of Labor were not included in the charge sheet as former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima noted that further investigation is needed to determine their culpability.
Rada said the Kentex workers and the fire victims are strongly urging the owners and management of Kentex to pay workers the minimum level of P481 per day pegged a year ago by the Regional Productivity and Wage Board (RPWB).
Kentex workers are receiving P202 per day.
On May 13 last year, 74 workers died when a fire gutted Kentex.
Fire probers ascertained that the victims were trapped inside the three-story building because of structural defects.
Despite the structural problems, the Valenzuela city government, specifically the Business Permit and Licensing Office allowed Kentex to operate.
Various labor groups, like the Federation of Free Workers, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, and the Associated Labor Unions have expressed their strong support to the struggle of the Kentex workers for justice and have urged the DOLE to ensure that all business establishments in the country are compliant with labor laws.