Tomorrow, November 13, marks the sixth month since the Kentex factory fire which claimed the lives of more than 74 workers. Despite the clear violations of occupational safety and health standards that resulted in the gruesome death of many workers, justice remains elusive for the victims’ families and the survivors.
> The two criminal cases filed against the capitalists of Kentex, one by Kentex workers and the other by the government, are gathering dust in the Valenzuela Prosecutors’ Office.
Instead of pushing for a hearing on the cases, the government filed a case of copyright infringement against Kentex this November pertaining to the latter’s imitation of Brazilian brand Havaianas. This move is aimed at pleasing the government’s guests in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings by showing that the country upholds intellectual property rights, but it does little to advance the cause of justice for the Kentex workers.
> The administrative case filed by the Kentex workers against government officials including Labor Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz and former Interior and Local Government Sec. Mar Roxas is not being acted upon by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, who is supposedly independent, swift, and strong-willed.
> The labor cases filed by the workers before the National Labor Relations Commission are still awaiting decision. This, despite the Kentex management’s efforts to take advantage of the economic hardships faced by the victims’ families and survivors after the tragedy by offering them a paltry settlement package in exchange of withdrawing their cases.
> While the Social Security System was able to release the benefits of workers who died, it refuses to release the benefits of workers who survived. At the same time, it has not yet filed a case against the capitalists of Kentex for failing to remit workers’ contributions to the fund.
In sum, it appears that for the government, justice for the workers of Kentex consists of merely of meager compensation. We reject this view. We demand justice and accountability for the workers who suffered from unchecked exploitation and criminal negligence at Kentex, many of whom lost their lives in the worst factory fire in Philippine history.
We vow to continue with our protests until justice is attained. We call on all supporters of workers’ rights to continue speaking out and holding protests to demand justice for the Kentex workers. We call on workers to unite, form unions that are genuine, militant and anti-imperialist, and fight for their basic rights, including the upholding of occupational safety and health standards.