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04 December 2008

Ban on Hanjin subcontractor pressed

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority has recommended the banning of a subcontractor of the Korean shipbuilder Hanjin after the recent deaths of two workers at the firm’s work site.

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said his agency investigated the death of Jose Vener Gil, 42, and found that Philnorkor (not PhilNokor as earlier reported), a subcontractor of Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines Inc. (HHIC), had violated proper work procedures.

A 250-kilogram duct whose shackle Gil was unhooking fell on him on Nov. 26. Gil, who was employed by Philnorkor, died while being brought to the hospital.

“We found [that] Philnorkor used improper shackles in moving the ducts,” said Arreza. “This is the company’s (Philnorkor’s) second death. We will recommend cancellation of Philnorkor’s CRTE (certificate of registration and tax exemption) to the board,” he said.

The CRTE allows a company to operate within the Subic free port without paying duties. In effect, SBMA’s move to cancel the CRTE bans Philnorkor from doing business inside the free port.

On Nov. 20, Philip Mendoza, 40, died when a metal structure fell on him when the truck he was riding in crashed into an area of the shipyard where he was working.

Mendoza’s three other companions—William Liberato, Rolex Alog and Kong Jong Sik, a Korean who was driving the truck—were hurt.

In a statement, Pyeong Jong Yu, deputy managing director of Hanjin, said the previous accident “was not in any way related to the shipbuilding operations. It was “caused by a vehicular accident as a result of human frailty,” he said.

Yu, in an accident report sent to Arreza, said the company had started an investigation “to ascertain whether the unfortunate event was the result of an industrial mishap, unavoidable human error, or simply the negligence of Philnorkor during the construction work.”

“If investigation reveals that the accident was caused by laxity in the observance of rules and regulations on occupational safety, the immediate superiors and authorities concerned with the implementation of safety policies will be made answerable, regardless of nationality,” Yu told Arreza.

“If negligence on the part of Philnorkor is the proximate cause, HHIC shall take all necessary steps to hold the contractor liable in every aspect,” he added. (Robert
Gonzaga, Inquirer Central Luzon)

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