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DOJ forms team to review Kentex fire probe results, prepare raps


The Department of Justice (DOJ) has formed a team to review all the reports from various investigations on last month's fire at a two-story slipper factory in Valenzuela City that left 72 people dead.

In a department order on Wednesday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima tasked state prosecutors from the National Prosecution Service and DOJ state counsel to determine possible criminal and administrative offenses committed during the blaze at the factory owned by Kentex Manufacturing Corp.

The prosecutors and government lawyers will have to determine possible violations from the Revised Penal Code, the Revised Fire Code (RA 9514), the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019), the Revised Administrative Code, the Civil Service Law, the Local Government Code, and other relevant laws.

Making up the team were Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Roberto Lao, Assistant State Prosecutor Olivia Torrevillas, ASP Ma. Cristina Barot, State Counsel III Margarette Robles, SC II Consuelo Corazon Iazzuacan, and SC I Dioxenos Sulit.

They were tasked to review all relevant official government reports on the Kentex fire incident, primarily that of the Inter-Agency Anti-Arson Task Force (IATF), as well as that of the Department of Interior and Local Government and other relevant official reports.

De Lima also ordered the team to “assess and evaluate the available documentary, testimonial, and object evidence so far gathered in the investigation and provided by the investigating agencies, and determine the sufficiency of the same in the filing of the appropriate criminal and administrative cases.”

The panel will also make further inquiry from the investigating agency, specifically the IATF, on the acquisition of additional evidence necessary for the case build-up.

They will then identify the specific private individuals and public officials who shall be charged, with an enumeration of the evidence to be used for each case against each individual.

It is also the team that will decide whether cases would be filed either with the appropriate public prosecutor of the NPS or the Office of the Ombudsman or any other appropriate body.

“If sufficient time is still available, the Panel shall also include the review and evaluation of any evidence made available by the Department of Labor and Employment on the possible administrative and criminal liabilities of Kentex under the Labor Code of the Philippines and other relevant labor laws,” said De Lima.

The panel’s report is due 30 days or a month from the team’s receipt of the department order.

To help the survivors and families of the fire victims, Kentex had already promised to pay them P8,000. The amount is a standardized form of backpay, according to the company’s lawyer.

Kentex had already given P5,000 initial cash assistance to the families. It will also shoulder the forensic tests to identify the heavily burned bodies and the medical expenses of the injured survivors. —KBK, GMA News
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