Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Monday, December 15, 2008

Solon to probe Hanjin death toll

SEN. Pia Cayetano wants to look into the deaths of Filipino laborers at the shipyard of Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Phils. at the Subic Bay Freeport in Zambales due to work-related accidents.

She earlier questioned the decision of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority suspending the subcontractor Philnorkor and sparing Hanjin from any liability in connection with the deaths of its workers Philip Mendoza and Jose Vener Gil last November.

Gil was reportedly the 15th to die due to work-related accidents at the shipyard. Reports reaching Cayetano’s office said many more workers have died from illness, particularly malaria.

“The Senate cannot turn a blind eye to the mounting death toll especially when the agencies tasked to enforce our laws have apparently failed to perform their mandate to protect the interest of our workers,” said Cayetano. “I have personally asked our chairman of the Senate labor committee, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, to lead the probe and he has indicated that he would schedule this for a public hearing soon,” she said.

She said it is only right to suspend Philnorkor because it is directly in charge of hiring workers and overseeing daily work conditions at the job site.

“But how can Hanjin be entirely cleared of liability when it is the one selecting and supervising the subcontractors? Hanjin is aware that all these accidents and deaths have been occurring the past two years, but has it done anything to make its subcontractors comply with all occupational safety regulations?” she asked.

In her interpellation of the proposed 2009 budget of the Department of Labor and Employment last week, Cayetano scored DoLE for its failure to investigate and penalize those responsible for the “unusually large” number of accidents and deaths at the shipyard.

She also questioned the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for its failure to act on other reported irregularities at the free port. By: Bernadette E. Tamayo - Journal online

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