Ombudsman enters Kentex probe fray

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The Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday said it was looking into the Kentex Manufacturing factory fire in Valenzuela City (Metro Manila) even as the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the same day announced names of members of a panel that will investigate criminal and administrative liabilities if any of parties responsible for the incident.

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The May 13 fire left 72 workers dead.

“Yes, that [Kentex fire] is being subjected to fact-finding,” Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said without elaborating when asked at a news conference about the role her office was playing in connection with the deadly incident.

On Monday , President Benigno Aquino 3rd said local officials of Valenzuela City may be charged with reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and falsification of documents because of the tragedy.

Under the law, the Ombudsman may, motu proprio (on its own) or even without a lodged complaint, initiate an investigation of “any act of omission of any public officer or employee, office or agency, when such act of omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient.”

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the DOJ panel will be composed of state prosecutors Roberto Lao, Olivia Torrevillas and Maria Cristina Barot; and state counsels Margarette Robles, Consuelo Corazon Pazziuagan and Dioxenos Sulit.

According to de Lima, a DOJ order had been issued in compliance with an order of the President to press charges against those behind the workers’ deaths.

She said a preliminary investigation will work on establishing criminal and administrative liabilities against persons responsible for the tragedy under the Revised Penal Code, Revised Fire Code, Revised Administrative Code, Civil Service Law, Local Government Code and other relevant laws, the order read.

WITH JOMAR CANLAS

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