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Valenzuela fire prompts Palace to call for review of occupational, fire safety laws

After over 70 people were killed in a factory fire in Valenzuela City last week, Malacañang on Tuesday called on Congress to revisit the country’s laws on occupational and fire safety.
In an interview in state-run radio dzRB, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said there is already a need to “update” the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which was enacted in 1970.
Congress should explore the possibility of criminalizing violations to occupational safety standards, Coloma added.
“Walang criminal penalties na nakatakda kaya’t tila baga walang ngipin iyong batas. Hindi naman magiging epektibo kung walang naitakdang penalty na magiging deterrent o pipigil sa paglabag dito,” the Palace official said in the radio interview.
“Kaya mahalaga na makunsidera na ng ating mga mambabatas iyong mga nakahain na batas, panukalang batas hinggil sa criminalization ng mga violations sa Occupational Safety and Health Regulation natin,” he added.
At least 72 individuals were confirmed dead in a fire that razed a factory in Valenzuela owned by Kentex Manufacturing Corporation. The Bureau of Fire Protection is currently leading the probe on incident.
Following the deadly Valenzuela fire, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago pushed for the passage of a pending bill seeking to make building owners criminally liable for failure to comply with fire safety laws.
Coloma, for his part, said lawmakers should also look into proposals of making local government units responsible for implementing provisions of the country’s law on fire safety.
“Hinggil naman sa Fire Safety Code, isa rin sigurong usapin na puwedeng talakayin ay kung sino ba ang makakapagsagawa nito nang mas epektibo,” the Palace official said.
Malacañang also earlier pledged to intensify inspections of business establishments to ensure that they comply with safety standards. —KG, GMA News