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Kentex complied with labor standards, safety measures – lawyer


Despite initial results from investigations of different agencies, the lawyer of Kentex Manufacturing Corp. insisted that the slipper manufacturer followed both labor standards and safety measures for their warehouse in Valenzuela City that was hit by fire last week and claimed the lives of 72 people.   
In an interview with GMA News TV's News To Go on Monday, Atty. Renato Paraiso said it was unfair for Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz to call Kentex "immoral" for allegedly exploiting its workers
 
"They are not only illegal, they are immoral. This employer, they don't have a sense of social responsibility," Baldoz told Agence France-Presse in an exclusive interview last week.
 
The Labor Department argued that Kentex got the services of an unregistered subcontractor. Reports also said the workers were paid below minimum wage.

 "It was a reckless statement made by the DOLE secretary po eh. Hindi po natin alam ang basehan niya sa pagsabi na 'immoral' po ang paggamit namin ng recruitment agency. In fact, when they issued a Certificate of Compliance po, nandoon po ang lahat ng empleyado. Alam po nila na may empleyadong galing manpower service agencies," Paraiso said. 
 
He also pointed out that it is DOLE's job to make sure subcontractors are legit. 
 
"I think it's within their mandates, their jobs to inspect these agencies. Huwag naman pong sanang ipasa sa amin na kami po dapat ang magpuna or mag-inspect dito sa manpower agency na iyon," Paraiso added. 
 
He said Kentex received a certification from DOLE that the warehouse has a safe working environment. 
 
"With regards doon sa working environment naman po, kaakiabat po ng compliance na binibigay po ng Department of Labor [and Employment] that we complied with the labor standards is also a certification with regards to safe working environment. Base po doon, compliant po ang kumpanya namin kasi na-issue-han po kami ng ganyang certification," he explained. 
 
Safety measures 
 
The lawyer added that Kentex followed all the safety measures that were required of them. 
 
"Unang-una po, when it comes to safety requirements when it comes to fire, na-issue-han po kami ng certificate of compliance ng BFP (Bureau of Fire Protection)," he started. 
 
Paraiso then explained that the Kentex management relied on the recommendations of the BFP and made sure to follow them, if any. 
 
"Bilang pong negosyante, nakadepende po sa kanila kung anong recommendation ang ibibigay nila, not only for us to be compliant but also safe with regards to prevention of fire. Talagang lahat po iyan, sinusunod namin with regards to the fire exits, fire measures na sinunod ho namin sa recommendations ng BFP.
 
"Intidihin po natin na itong Kentex Manufacturing ay isang negosyante. Wala po silang basic knowledge even ng Fire Safety Code. They all depend on the recommendations ng BFP when they make their inspections po eh. When they make their recommendations, Kentex always makes sure that they follow the recommendations to the T... For example, you say about steel matting doon sa mga bintana, if it's a fire hazard, if it's not compliant with the code, 'pag pinatanggal ho sa amin 'yan, tatanggalin naman po namin 'yan," he added. 
 
No liabilities, social responsibility? 
 
Paraisio said Kentex management is confident they will not have any criminal liability when the investigation is finished. 
 
"We're very confident that after the investigation, mapapatunayan naman po na complied with everything that was required of us. Wala po kaming criminal negligence. We're not saying na wala po kaming social responsibility. We're trying to comply nga with kung ano po ang tulong na ma-extend natin. But with regards yung any criminal liability of violations of certain laws, wala po," he stressed. 
 
To help the survivors and families of the fire victims, Kentex promised to pay them P8,000. This amount is a standardized form of backpay, the lawyer explained.
 
He then said that Kentex already gave P5,000 initial cash assistance to the families. The slipper manufacturer will also shoulder the forensic tests to identify the heavily burned bodies and the medical expenses of the injured survivors. 
 
When asked if there is anything more that the managemenet will give, Paraiso said that Kentex is planning to give more but it still depends on the resources of the owners, who suffered total business loss. 
 
"'Di lang po kami makapag-commit to a certain amount kasi we're looking at all other expenses. We have to look at the resources na natitira. Let's remember that this company also suffered a total business loss. 'Yung talagang nawala po 'yung negosyo. Kung ano lang po ang natitirang resources. Their personal resources are being put in. Kung ano po ang kakayanin," he explained. — Tricia Macas/RSJ, GMA News