2 years after Kentex fire tragedy, families still cry for justice

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 13) — Survivors and families of the victims of the 2015 Kentex fire tragedy are now pushing for a bill that criminalizes occupational health and safety violations.

Read: Valenzuela factory fire kills 31

In commemoration of their departed loved ones, they held a protest march, also calling for an end to contractualization.

A mass was also held in front of the slipper factory in Valenzuela City on Saturday to call for justice for those who perished back on May 13, 2015.

Related: Valenzuela mourns as more bodies found in gutted factory

"Hustisya lang ang hinihingi ko sa anak ko sa pagkawala ng panganay kong anak at sa marami pang kasama niya," said Marilyn Yco, mother of Frederick, who was among the 74 workers who died in the fire.

[Translation: I just want justice for the death of my eldest and those who died with him.]

Former President Benigno Aquino III described the Kentex fire as a "tragedy waiting to happen," as he said the local officials should be held liable for the death of the workers that were trapped inside.

Related: Palace: Criminalize job safety violations

Aquino then ordered the inspection of the more than 300,000 establishments in Metro Manila to "ensure the tragedy would not be repeated."

While cases have been filed against those allegedly liable for one of the worst fires in the country, justice is still yet to be seen.

Read: DOJ hears complaints against Kentex officials

One of the survivors, Danny Tacador, expressed his frustration on the case. His wife died in the Kentex fire.

"Nakakagalit po talaga kasi po dalawang taon na simula ng nasunog itong Kentex na ito, dalawang taon na rin walang nangyayari sa kaso namin. Hanggang ngayon hindi pa rin naman nakakamit ang hustisya," Tacador said.

[Translation: It's really frustrating because two years have passed sicne the Kentex fire and nothing has happened yet. Until now, we haven't received justice.]

Yco also urged authorities to do something to prevent future tragedies.

"Mahirap na ho kami, huwag naman ho kaming pahirapan pa lalo, dahil ang hangad lang po naming maayos yung mga darating pang bagong henerasyon ng manggagawa na hindi po matulad sa aming kaanak na nawala ho, nang walang kalaban-laban," Ticador said.

[Translation: We are already poor, they should not make it more difficult for us, because we just want future workers not to have the same fate as our relatives who died helplessly.]

Last December, the Sandiganbayan cleared three Valenzuela City officials of criminal charges, including Mayor Rex Gatchalian, as the court ruled there was no probable cause to indict them of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and physical injuries, and graft.

The Court of Appeals also cleared Gatchalian of administrative charges for grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty.

Meanwhile, among those still facing criminal charges include officials of both Kentex and Fire Bureau.

Read: Kin of Kentex workers sue DOLE, BFP, DILG officials

Both Yco and Tacador appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte as they continue their fight for justice.

"Nanawagan po ako na tulungan nyo po kami na mapabilis yung kaso namin sa pagawaan po ng pabrika ng Kentex dahil tanging hangad lang po namin ay mabigyan ng hustisya ang aming mga kaanak." Yco said.

[Translation: We are calling on the President for him to help speed up our case against the Kentex factory, because what we seek is only to give justice for our loved ones.]