A Valenzuela City solon would like the House of Representatives to conduct a joint committee investigation on the May 13 fire incident that gutted the Kentex slipper factory and caused the death of 72 people, mostly contractual workers.
Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian filed House Resolution No. 2098 directing the House Committee on Public Order and Safety as well as the committee on Labor and Employment to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation that aims to prevent another tragic fire incident not only in Valenzuela City but also in other cities where there are a concentration of factories.
“An inquiry on this case is needed to determine any enhancements that can be introduced to existing fire safety standards and regulations, occupational health and safety standards, other relevant laws and their implementation,” said Gatchalian, who is a member of House Committee on Local Government.
“It will also help determine what sanctions should be imposed on those who are liable for the Kentex factory fire,” the lawmaker added.
The Kentex fire reportedly caused by welding sparks that ignited nearby chemical containers is said to be the biggest blaze to have hit Valenzuela City in terms of casualties. Property damage was placed by the local Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) at around P50 million.
The former three-term mayor of Valenzuela City also said a joint committee investigation will also shed light on the environmental conditions faced by common factory workers.
Gatchalian also reiterated his call on the Department of lnterior and Local Government (DILG) to transfer to governors and mayors the operational control and supervision over the local BFP as this will make local government units (LGUs) directly accountable to the people.
“The devolution of the BFP to LGUs will strengthen the fire prevention aspect of provincial, city and municipal governments and this will make governors and mayors accountable to the people whenever there are fire incidents on establishments that failed to comply with fire prevention mechanisms,” Gatchalian said.
The Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) congressman has long been suggesting the devolution of BFP control to local chief executives in his House Bill No. 4662, which he filed June last year.
Under his proposed measure, governors and mayors would be deputized as representatives of the DILG Secretary in their respective localities in exercising and supervising the operations of BFP personnel and offices.
“Provincial governors would have the power to choose the provincial and district fire marshals recommended by the Regional Director of Fire Protection and BFP district offices,” said Gatchalian.
“City and municipal mayors would be given authority to conduct operational supervision and control and impose due penalties for minor offenses on BFP personnel in their respective jurisdictions,” he added.
HB 4662 is currently pending before the House committee on public order and safety. (Tim Alcantara)