Justice remains elusive a month after HTI fire

A facility of House Technology Industries in the Cavite export processing zone goes up in flames February 1

Smoke still seen from outside HTI a day after it caught fire early evening of February 1 just as workers were changing shifts.

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines joins the unceasing call for justice to the victims of the fire that broke out on February 1 in the House Technology Industries (HTI) complex inside the Cavite Export Processing Zone (CEPZ).

Justice remains elusive one month after the tragedy. According to an information obtained by Kilusang Mayo Uno, over 1,328 HTI workers reported for work on that tragic night. The tragedy is a blatant incident of how capitalists deliberately violates the occupational health and safety standards inside CEPZ.

The Department of Labor and Employment and the Philippine Export Processing Authority (PEZA) should be criminalized for the HTI tragedy. It is through their repressive laws, particularly the Department Order No. 131-13, that our workers continue to suffer for this encourages voluntary compliance with labor laws, decreasing government responsibility in implementing occupational health and safety standards.

CEGP also indicts PEZA for continuously legitimizing and normalizing contractualization in our current semi-colonial and semi-feudal society. Attracting more foreign investors legitimizes the exploitation of our workers. It lowers their wages, eradicates occupational health and safety, benefits and job security, and disallows their right to organize and form unions. It imperils the lives of workers for bigger profit that will only benefit the ruling elite and continuously exploits Filipino workers.

It is clear that government agencies are cahooting to hide the truth regarding the tragedy. Continuous independent investigations should be held to reveal the truth and to expose the whitewashing of facts by the HTI management and authorities.

As the vanguard of peoples’ rights and welfare through its pens, the Guild believes that this tragedy highlights the intolerable condition of Filipino workers who suffer gross exploitation under the current neoliberal state of our economy.

The Guild is abhorred that President Rodrigo Duterte continues to side with the ruling class and the imperialist United States because until now, his administration’s economic policies remain anchored within the framework of neoliberal globalization.

We unite in the call to continuously criticize and condemn the Duterte regime to expose his incompetencies and to hold him accountable for his failure in truly serving the Filipino people.
In line with our call to end contractual employment schemes, CEGP also joins the Filipino people to support the immediate resumption of peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. The peace talks is intended for the Filipino people for it pushes the implementation of a genuine agrarian reform program and national industrialization which will create more jobs and provide decent wages and human working conditions for Filipino workers