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04 February 2009

Senate body eyes brief halt to Hanjin operations

Manila, Philippines - The Senate panel investigating the deaths of workers of Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction is inclined to recommend the temporary suspension of the Korean firm's operations for failure to comply with the country's labor laws.

Senate Pro Tempore Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada, chairman of the Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development, said it was clear that there was neglect on the part of Hanjin that resulted in the deaths of 19 workers in the facility it is building in Subic Freeport.

"[The possible recommendation of the committee would be] temporary cessation of the operations until after all labor requirements have been complied with," Estrada said in a chance interview after the hearing.

Sen. Pilar Juliana Cayetano, former chairman of the Environment Committee that investigated the violations allegedly committed by Hanjin, supported Estrada's recommendation.

"The committee will recommend the temporary suspension of its operation," she said.

A total of 19 deaths at sprawling Hanjin shipbuilding facility have been reported, the latest of which happened on January 25.

A South Korean expat working at an assembly facility of the Hanjin Heavy Industries Corp. Philippines in Subic was killed when a forklift ran over him.

Police reports identified the fatality as Choi Dong Baek, a 51-year-old supervisor at the sprawling shipbuilding complex located at the Redondo Peninsula in Subic Bay. He was ran over by a forklift operated by Menti Dacanay, a Filipino worker, at around 12:45 a.m. at the vicinity of assembly shop C where metal works are done.

On January 23, Raldon del Rosario, 19, from Kalinga province, an employee of Redondo I-Tech Corp. He died of massive head injuries.

Another worker, Camalao Bochie, 24, also from Kalinga, suffered leg injuries. Both victims were taken to St. Jude Hospital in Olongapo City, where Del Rosario was declared dead on arrival.

Initial reports released by authorities said the victims were pinned down by the metal base of a newly installed manual canvass door that fell at one of the assembly facilities of Hanjin.

Last year, government regulators ordered Hanjin to stop its operations in its one of its assembly shops after an 8-ton girder assembly being lifted by a crane fatally struck a worker at the back of his head. Work, however, resumed as the company assured that all safety measures were being undertaken. (Amita Legaspi, GMANews.TV)

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