Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday said the Makati Development Corporation (MDC), the general contractor of the West Super Block Project in Taguig City, owned by BG West Properties, Inc. and Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation, where an accident happened the other day, claiming the lives of two workers and injuring 11 others, has 17 ongoing projects all over the National Capital Region, but only two of these projects have been subjected to joint assessment under the new Labor Laws Compliance System (LLCS), and only one has an approved Construction Safety and Health Program (CHSP).
“This in incredible. We know that the MDC is a reputable company, but I would like the accident investigation being conducted by the DOLE-NCR to get to the bottom of why it has only one approved CHSP,” said Baldoz after receiving the report of DOLE-NCR Regional Director Alex Avila on the result of the initial investigation.
In his report, Avila said the MDC project which has an approved CHSP is a seven-storey medium rise building in Pasig.
The West Super Block Project in Taguig, composed of 61-storey residential; 22-storey office; five-storey retail; and six-storey basement level buildings, has a DOLE-approved CHSP issued on 24 January 2014.
MDC’s sub-contractor, and it was whose workers were involved in the accident, Fastem Construction, Inc., was engaged to do structural works in the project, such as reinforcing steel works, form works, and concrete placing. It has a license from the Philippine Contractors’ Accreditation Board (PCAB), but which has expired on 30 June 2014.
“However, upon its request, PCAB granted Fastem Construction, Inc.’s request for Authority to Continue On-Going Projects for the West Super Block on 19 November 2014,” Avila said in his report.
“The firm’s main office is located on No. 302 Ortigas Avenue Extension, Brgy. Sto. Domingo, Cainta, Rizal, and I have endorsed right away the company to DOLE Regional Office No. 4-A Regional Director Zenaida Angara-Campita for joint assessment. Angara, in turn, said the regional office will assess the sub-contractor, also yesterday.
Also based on the DOLE-NCR investigation, the fatalities—Renan dela Cruz, 32, and Ruben Racraquin, of unknown age, were acting as pouring guards below the building’s lower ground floor when the accident happened.
“The MDC said its internal investigation on the accident is still on-going, but initially, it were looking at three possible areas or causes of the accident: (1) structural design; (2) operational aspect; and (3) behavioral. It will submit its report in another hearing today,” Avila said.
At the initial hearing, the MDC and Fastem Construction, Inc. informed the DOLE-NCR that they have paid the funeral expenses of the deceased; have provided P10,000 to their families for transportation expenses to Manila; and shouldered their accommodation expenses in the city. They have also showed a hospital bill of P113,108.14 which they said they paid for the medical expenses of the injured.
The MDC and Fastem Construction, Inc. have assured us they will extend the necessary financial assistance to all the worker-victims,” Avila said.
But Secretary Baldoz—who yesterday ordered all DOLE regional directors to conduct a full assessment under the new Labor Law Compliance System (LLCS) of all contractors and subcontractors, with priority to cover existing construction projects, big and small—insisted that DOLE will not lift the Work Stoppage Order on the West Super Block project until there is full compliance by the owner, general contractor, and sub-contractors with all labor laws and occupational safety and health rules and regulations.
“I also want to see a complete inventory of all the projects of the owner, the general contractor, and the subcontractors, not only in Metro Manila, but elsewhere in the country, so we can jointly assess them under the LLCS and find out the extent of their compliance with all labor laws and occupational safety and health regulations. Workers die in accidents because employers tend to be lax in their compliance,” Baldoz said.
Further, the labor and employment chief said instructed her regional directors and the heads of the Occupational Safety and Health Centre; Employees Compensation Commission; and Bureau of Working Conditions that they should work with other government agencies, such as building officials, municipal/city/provincial engineers, local chief executives, safety officers, and partners in the Industry Tripartite Council on Construction, in the implementation of a monitoring plan that will enable the Department to know the levels of compliance with all labor laws and occupational health and safety rules and regulations, including no non-sense compliance with the requirement for a DOLE-approved Construction Safety and Health Program.
The monitoring, according to Baldoz, should begin from CSHP approval, continue during the construction, and end with the final report of completion. “I want regular progress reports of construction companies’ and their subcontractors’ compliance,” Baldoz said, adding that the monitoring system after approval of the CHSP must be a component of the LLCS.