Sunday, May 13, 2012

Find Butuan garment store owners - Robredo

BUTUAN CITY, Philippines – Interior and Local Governments Secretary Jesse Robredo has ordered the Philippine National Police to find the owners of the burned Novo Jeans and Shirts Enterprises, amid complaints of the relatives of the victims that they have not surfaced since last Wednesday’s fire. Robredo also gave the team investigating the fire until May 9 to wrap up its probe. ”I gave them a deadline. Unless there is need for additional forensic tests, they should be ready with their findings. Anyway it’s clear what happened,” he said. When asked if the government can recommend a hold departure order on the owners of Novo, who were reportedly Chinese or Taiwanese nationals, Robredo said a case should be first be filed against them. Robredo arrived here yesterday morning to assess the fire that killed 17 women workers. Majority of the fatalities who were trapped when the fire struck the building before dawn, were from Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur, Misamis Occidental, Dipolog, Agusan, Surigao and Ozamis cities. The relatives of the victims also complained of the alleged shabby treatment of the workers. Initial investigation showed that workers were only provided living quarters and water but not food. They said Novo workers get only P160 to P190 a day and asked to work for more than eight hours with no overtime pay. This, despite the P258 minimum wage set by the Regional Tripartite Wage Board of theCaraga region. Novo management was said to have promised P26,000 to each of the families of the victims, but the funeral parlor had been asking them to pay P50,000. “Where will we get the balance of P25,000 (for the funeral parlor),” the relatives said during a meeting with Robredo. ‘Erring personnel to be relieved’ Meanwhile, Robredo said he will not hesitate to file charges and relieve erring Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) personnel and officials who are selling fire extinguishers in exchange for permits or clearances. In a press conference held at the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines office at the Bancasi Airport, Robredo said he has marching orders to all BFP personnel and officials not to engage in any business, business proposals or even to issue recommendations to applicants of Fire Safety Inspection Certificate, BFP clearance, and other permits from the fire agency. He also appealed to the public and the media to report such activities. Robredo said Wednesday’s fire should serve as an eye opener to all BFP officials and personnel nationwide. “Definitely heads will roll if we found out in the independent investigation we are now initiating if there are remiss of their duties among Butuan BFP personnel,” he said. Butuan City Mayor Ferdinand Amante Jr., for his part, said Novo has been issued a business permit contrary to earlier news reports. – With Mike Frialde - By Ben Serrano