Cavite governor confirms 1 dead in HTI factory fire

GENERAL TRIAS, Cavite — Cavite Governor Jesus Crispin Remulla has confirmed on Friday that one worker died after sustaining third-degree burns from the fire that razed the House Technology Industries (HTI) manufacturing plant at the Cavite Ecozone.

In a media interview, Remulla said the provincial social workers assisting the victims of the blaze reported to him of the fatality whose identity is still being verified.

Remulla said two more are reportedly in critical condition.

The Cavite governor has been keeping in touch with the management of the ill-fated six-hectare manufacturing facilities at the Cavite Export Processing Zone Authority in Bacao 2, in this city.

“We are only here to assist in the crisis. This is a legislative fiat and we are just following the law that created PEZA,” Remulla said, citing the ecozone agency’s charter as independent from jurisdiction of the host local government.

He pointed out that PEZA does not report directly to the provincial government, and the host local government neither conducts fire inspections nor issues business permit.

He also disclosed that economic zone authority by law is not even subjected to local government permits and other requirements imposed by General Trias City where the plant is located.

“This is purely a PEZA matter and the matter belongs to Congress as an oversight function,” Remulla said.

Local government officials and disaster risk reduction and management personnel are still monitoring several workers believed to be trapped in the rubble and collapsed structures left by the massive fire.

“We are not allowed to investigate or give permit as it is PEZA that exercises the function and sole authority and they are not covered by jurisdiction of the local government,” Remulla stressed.

Calabarzon civil defense officer Lorenzo Haveria said regional and local disaster risk-reduction and management council officials from the fire protection, social welfare and development, police, health, labor and employment came in full force to appraise the situation and have since mobilized assistance to the fire victims in coordination with the local government units.

Haveria said the fire site remains restricted and clearances are sought by the concerned officials from the PEZA that has jurisdiction over the incident.

He said families of the fire victims continue to pour in outside the factory complex and at the hospitals for updates on their loved ones. Saul E. Pa-a/

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