Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Monday, June 23, 2008

Zambales governor demands safety measures at Hanjin

Zambales Gov. Amor deloso asked the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority not to lift the cease-and-desist order on the construction arm of a Korean shipbuilding firm until safety measures are enforced and appropriate equipment are installed at the shipyard in Subic town.

In a telephone interview on Sunday, Deloso said he also demanded a full inspection of the construction and shipbuilding sites of Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction Philippines Inc. by appropriate government agencies to verify the company’s claims that it was doing everything to avoid accidents and deaths among its workers.

Deloso said “not less than 27 deaths” had occurred at the yard due to accidents or malaria since construction started there in late 2006.

Some 5,000 workers are involved in the construction of the shipyard while 8,000 more are employed in shipbuilding work, HHIC-Philippines general manager Pyeong Jong Yu told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Saturday.

He said he could “not correctly remember” the number of deaths among workers.

The SBMA on Friday night issued the CDO, which is effective for seven days, against Hanjin Construction Corp. Ltd. (Editor’s Note: Pyeong said the name of its construction arm is Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction). SBMA faxed a copy of the CDO to HCCL on Friday night and served it to the company on Saturday morning.

The CDO was issued after a construction worker was killed on Friday afternoon when a steel frame toppled by strong winds hit him. Four others were hurt in that accident.

Deloso said aside from government agencies, the Korean company should also allow him, members of the provincial board and provincial environment and safety officers to inspect the shipyard.

He also wants government and private safety engineers to certify the safety of Hanjin’s work site.

“The problem with Hanjin is that it is monolithic. Hindi nagpapasok ng iba (They don’t allow outsiders to enter their facility). They are very arrogant,” Deloso said.

The governor was referring to three instances when he or other provincial officials were prevented from entering Hanjin’s premises to confirm reports that the firm “demolished mountains” and “reclaimed [portions of the sea].”

“I support [SBMA Administrator Armand] Arreza’s issuance of a CDO. While the lifting of that is not within my jurisdiction, I believe it is in the best interest of Filipino workers, most of whom are from Zambales, that the CDO is not lifted until all conditions are met. The safety of Filipino workers must be SBMA’s primary interest,” Deloso, a lawyer, said.

SBMA, he said, must “not compromise the lives of workers over investors who do not follow the government’s safety laws.”

He cited the example of the American Energy System, the operator of the Masinloc Coal Fired Thermal Plant in Masinloc, Zambales. The firm immediately fired a worker when he did not wear a hard hat within the 15-meter safety zone, he said.

“Look at that discipline. That’s not done at Hanjin,” Deloso said.

Arreza said a team from the SBMA and Department of Labor and Employment conducted a “comprehensive review” of occupational health and safety practices at Hanjin on April 19 and 20.

On Saturday, a team inspected the site to check on the recommendations given in April.

“Hanjin will be reopened once there is substantial compliance by it and its subcontractors,” Arreza told the Inquirer.

Arreza said the CDO is “extendible until we see compliance.” Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

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  • I totally agree with those that want to keep this shipyard closed till ALL safety measures have been put in place.

    It is sad to see those in power within SBMA or whereever have a blind eye on the deaths in this shipyard since 2006. Why is that I wonder?????

    Again this goes to show you that those in power who are getting $$$$ under the table to look the other way continue to let Filipinos suffer and die for their own profits. SAD

    The workers and the families who work at this shipyard need to protest and keep this shipyard shut down till they fix ALL the problems. The SBMA should support these workers and families with food monies till Hanjin fixes these problems with safety. For them to blame the workers is WRONG.

    Wake up SBMA and workers ta Hanjin, YOU are seen by Hanjin as CHEAP LABOR compred to the same work being done in Korea. Stand up for what is right for all who work at this shipyard and keep them closed till they fix the safety issues.

    Failure to keep them close ONLY till Hanjin comes around only continues to poor safety at the shipyard with more and more deaths.

    Its kind of funny yeas ago when the workers at the old Subic Naval Base went on strike and close the bases down for how many days for better pay. Hmmmmmm whats the problem now PEOPLE of Olonagapo City???????

    Is life that cheap to you to continue to let this Korean Company get away this in action????

    By Blogger John, at 6/24/2008 10:06 AM  

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