Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that this is not the right time to blame parties regarding the fire that gutted the NCCC Mall in Davao City last Saturday killing 38 people.

He said that what should be done right now is to help one another in finding the cause of the blaze, adding that an investigation on the incident is ongoing.

“Right now it is too premature to blame anybody. It could be the Department of Labor’s negligence. It could be the engineer’s negligence. It could be anybody or even the owner’s negligence. But it is too premature to conclude already,” Bello said.

At the same time, Bello reiterated that they are ready to provide assistance to the victims of the fire particularly those who will be displaced.

“For the part of the Department of Labor and Employment, we would like to extend assistance to the victims of the conflagration. At ang nabanggit namin na yung aming tulong ay mag-i-implement kami ng one-month emergency employment program. Lahat ng madi-displaced na worker because of the fire bibigyan naming ng one-month employment,” he said.

The workers will be receiving minimum wage, once they were hired in the program.

Asked how many workers have been displaced? Bello said they have not made an assessment yet as to the number of affected workers. He will be flying to Davao Friday morning to personally assess the situation.

Bello added that they are open for an internal investigation of their labor inspectors based on the result of the investigation.

“Yes. Kapag ganoon ang lalabas, people have to answer kung meron silang negligence. May oversight. They would have to answer for it. Nobody is indispensable. Nobody is a sacred cow here,” he said.

A total of 38 people, a majority of which are employees of SSI, a BPO (business process outsourcing) company perished in the fire that broke out on December 23. (PNA)

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