Sen. Bongbong Seeks
Senate Probe On Kentex Fire
SENATOR Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. has sought for a Senate inquiry into the massive fire that killed 72 workers in a slipper and rubber factory in Valenzuela City.
Marcos, member of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, on Wednesday filed Senate Resolution 1365 directing the appropriate committee, in aid of legislation, to look into the circumstances that led to the May 13 fire that razed the Kentex Manufacturing Corporation.
In his resolution, Marcos stressed the need for legislative measures to enhance and strengthen occupational safety and health standards. Initial reports said the slipper factory had violated safety standards and several labor laws.
“We need to strengthen existing laws on safety and health in the workplace to prevent a repeat of what the ILO itself has described as a preventable accident,” he said.
Marcos noted that Section 3, Article 13 of the Constitution provides that the State shall guarantee full protection to labor, particularly the entitlement of workers to humane conditions of work.
The Department of Labor and Employment earlier said Kentex had passed safety and health inspection in September 2014, or 8 months prior to the incident.
“That a factory like Kentex could pass the scrutiny of our labor inspectors calls into question how thorough these compliance checks are. The Senate inquiry will also look into the level and quality of cooperation between national agencies and local governments not only on fire prevention drives but also in promoting occupational safety and health standards in various workplaces,” he added.
The Senate inquiry will also look into the regularity of occupational safety and health inspections and policies, as well as fire inspections. “Kung once in a blue moon ito, ang mensahe sa mga workers ay bahala na kayo sa buhay ninyo. Sabi nga ng isang manggagawa ng Kentex, limang taon na siya sa factory ni isang fire drill ay di niya naranasan.”
The senator from Ilocos Norte observed that there has been some blame-tossing between the Bureau of Fire Protection and the city government of Valenzuela.
“The Senate probe will be impartial, thorough, and constructive. The bereaved families deserve some answers. I would also be interested to know what more needs to be done to prevent a repeat of the Kentex fire,” Marcos said.
Quick Departure Of BSM Teacher Puzzles Marcos
SENATOR Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. is puzzled by the quick departure from the country of the British School Manila (BSM) teacher who allegedly scolded for plagiarism the student who killed himself last February 6.
This developed on Tuesday during a public hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, presided over by its vice chairman, Sen. Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III, as Natalie Mann, the IB Coordinator of BSM, was found to have slipped out of the country just almost a month after Liam Joseph Madamba, one of the top graduating students of the school, jumped from the 6th floor of Dela Rosa car park building on February 6 and died at the Makati Medical Center.
“Why did she leave…. why does she never take the opportunity to explain the precise circumstances that happened? Up to this day, the family (of Madamba) cannot figure out what happen here and what seems to be rapid departure (of Mann) from the country does not help things at all,” Marcos said.
During the hearing, an affidavit of Mann was submitted to the committee explaining her side, but Marcos was dismayed since Mann had never explained personally to Madamba’s family what happened when she met him and another student on February 5 where both students allegedly “revealed and admitted the plagiarism immediately” in essays for the subject “Theory of Knowledge (TOK).”
“What kind of process did Mrs. Mann and her line-managers undertake to determine plagiarism?...And how is a serious charge concluded without the parents involved?” Trixie, the mother of Madamba, asked during the hearing.
Mann allegedly scolded, shamed and humiliated Madamba, which caused him depression believed to be the factor that drove him to take his own life.
Trixie told the panel that her son was made to write a letter of apology addressed to the entire student body.
“Did Mrs. Mann explain to Liam that it was going to be delivered to the audience, or was it just a ‘make believe’ audience to further increase the reflection process? If it was a ‘make believe’ audience, then isn’t it just the most cruel form of punishment a teacher can give a child who does not know better?” she asked. /MP