The Office of the Ombudsman has filed graft charges against Valenzuela Mayor Rexlon Gatchalian and several others for allegedly allowing Kentex Manufacturing Corp. to continue operating with “inadequate” fire safety measures.
In May last year, the fire in the firm’s footwear factory left over 70 workers dead.
Charged at the Sandiganbayan were Gatchalian, then-Officer-in-Charge Renchi Padayao of the Business Permits and Licensing Office (BPLO), then-BPLO Licensing Officer IV Eduardo Carreon, and private individual Ong King Guan a.k.a Terence King Ong, the General Manager and Treasurer of Kentex.
Assistant Special Prosecutor III Maria Janina Hidalgo of the Ombudsman alleged in the charge sheet that the respondents gave Kentex “unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence…by issuing a Business Permit to Kentex for the Year 2015, despite its delinquent status and without requiring a Fire Safety Inspection Certificate, and for failing to revoke the permit after Kentex failed to submit the requirements within the prescribed period; thereby allowing Kentex to continue operating with inadequate fire safety measures; resulting in 74 fatalities and multiple physical injuries when a fire took place in the Kentex Compound on 13 May 2015.”
The prosecutor also accused Gatchalian, Padayao, and Carreon of violating Section 3(j) of the anti-graft law over the issuance of a business permit to Kentex in 2014 when it “was not qualified or legally entitled to such permit” because it supposedly did not have a Fire Safety Inspection Certificate.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales recommended P30,000 bail each for the respondents’ provisional liberty. MA. REINA LEANNE C. TOLENTINO