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27 January 2009

Senate probes Hanjin Subic deaths on Feb.4

The Senate committee on labor, employment and human resource development will begin on Feb. 4 the public hearings on the string of deaths of Filipino workers at a Korean-owned shipyard in Subic, Zambales, since 2006.

A memorandum by Labor Assistant Secretary Reydeluz Conferido said three officials of the Department of Labor and Employment are attending the first hearing called through Senate Resolution No. 807 authored by Sen. Pia Cayetano.

Dulce Estrella Gust, executive director of the Occupational Safety and Health Center; Ma. Brenda Villafuerte, director of the Bureau of Working Conditions; and Nathaniel Lacambra, DOLE director in Central Luzon, have been asked to shed light on work safety issues at the shipyard of the Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines Inc., Conferido’s memo showed.

The public hearing indicated that Cayetano had convinced the other senators to proceed with it despite a request by the Korean Ambassador to the Philippines not to hold one due to its “negative repercussions” on Korean investments.

There have been at least 19 work- or accident-related deaths on the site. Except for one, all the victims were Filipinos.The latest fatality, Korean foreman Choi Dong Baek, 51, was run over by a forklift operated by a Filipino worker identified as
Menti Dacanay.

Lacambra said he was ready to attend the hearing.But Hanjin, he said, had not allowed access to DOLE inspectors in the early stage of the project. (Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon Desk)

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