By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
The frozen food factory in La Paz, Iloilo City where a teenager was pinned to death by a mechanical meat mixer last June 22, 2019 has decided to permanently stop its operations.
This was confirmed by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Regional Director Cyril Ticao in a phone interview on June 25.
During a hearing called by DOLE-6 Tuesday, Ticao said that the owner of Akhira Frozen Foods located at Mansaya, La Paz has signified that it will close its factory where Joemar Jungco, 18, of Antique province was killed.
Jungco died after he was gobbled by the mechanical meat mixer last Saturday. DOLE immediately sent a team to the factory to check its compliance with workplace safety.
On Tuesday, DOLE-6 summoned the owner of Akhira Frozen Foods to a hearing.
“Ginpatawag sila for hearing and nagkadto di ang owner but hambal nila isira na lang nila ang ila nga establishment kay sigurado apektado sila pero hambal ko sa ila sulat lang sila anay sang notice,” Ticao said.
On Monday, Ticao said they issued a stoppage order against the factory with a corresponding fine of P100,000. The order will only be lifted once the factory implements corrective measures and comply with occupational health and safety requirements.
“Gin-orderan lang sila sang stoppage order and kon may imminent danger kay-uhon lang tani until such time nga ma-address nila ang mga concerns but sila na mismo ang voluntary naghambal nga ma-close na sila,” he said.
The meat factory management has identified the date to cease operations which will affect six employees, Ticao said.
He added that the factory will still be required to pay the P100,000 fine.
Joselito Dela Banda, director II of DOLE-Iloilo, said the stoppage order was based on the violations that were committed by the factory as reported by their inspection team:
- non registration of business establishment with DOLE
- lack of safety officer
- failure to submit accident report
- lack of safety signage
While Ticao emphasized that they have been conducting safety inspections on establishments daily, he admitted that their department has never visited Akhira.
“Ang inspection namon continuous but wala pa nalab-utan sang inspection ang tong meat factory. We were able to inspect it after natabo ang accident,” he admitted.
Eighteen-year-old Joemar Jungco had only been working for two weeks at Akhira Frozen Foods when he was accidentally gobbled by a meat mixer machine on Saturday, based on the police investigation.
Following the incident, Ticao emphasized that establishments should employ safety officers.
He added that safety should always be the utmost priority of both the employees and the employers.
“Tanan nga establishment dapat tani may mga safety officer kag kon kinahanglan nila mag-wear sang personal protective equipment, ma-wear gid sila. Always gid nila paminsaron ang safety,” he said.