The Department of Labor and Employment will take more preventive measures in ensuring the enforcement of the occupational and safety standards in export processing zones following the fire that gutted a Japanese factory in the Cavite Export Processing Zone.

This after Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III tasked a technical working group to review the agreement signed between the labor department and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) last year delegating the inspection functions to export zone officials.

The move was prompted by the incident at the House Technology Industries (HTI) compound inside the Cavite Economic Zone in Rosario, Cavite which left three safety officers dead due to severe burns.

Before Bello assumed office in July, a memorandum of agreement was signed between DOLE and PEZA giving the latter the authority to conduct technical safety inspection on the establishments and companies under its jurisdiction.

“It should be the mandate and sole responsibility of the labor department to ensure that the occupational safety and health standards are strictly enforced on various establishments and companies. We should not be passing on this responsibility to PEZA or other agencies,” Bello said.

In Administrative Order 38 issued by Bello on Monday, DOLE will form a technical working group to review the provisions of the DOLE-PEZA MOA to ensure full protection of workers in the economic zones.

“Due to the recent incident at HTI, I want the labor department to lead the way in making sure that all safety and health standards are strictly enforced. We will be updating our guidelines, review this memorandum of agreement, and the law that created the special economic zones and its implementing rules and regulations so that we can somehow prevent similar incidents in the future,” Bello said.

The panel will be headed by Executive Director Noel Binag of the Occupational Safety and Health Center, with Bureau of Working Conditions Director Ma. Teresita Cucueco, Regional Directors Johnson Cañete, DOLE NCR; Ana Dione, DOLE Regional Office III; and Zenaida Campita, DOLE Regional Office IV-A as members.

The technical working group will submit its findings and recommendations to Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod within 30 days.

#Paul Ang

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