In a statement released on Christmas eve, the BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN) demand justice and accountability for the Davao City NCCC mall fire that presumably killed 37 on December 23.

“The timing is doubly unfortunate as it happened during the holidays, when families are supposed to come together and celebrate. The pain of losing a loved one in such a tragic death is simple unimaginable,” the group said.

Most of the victims are employees of Survey Sampling Inc., a BPO company whose site is in the 4th floor of the said commercial establishment.

BIEN lamented the lack of details provided in reports about the fire and is suspecting of the building’s adherence to fire safety precautions.

Social media posts alleged that the building had locked out fire exits, no fire drills and had building was made of substandard materials.

“But the mere fact that scores of employees were trapped in a building during already raises much suspicion to the BPO company’s compliance with occupational safety standards—such as early warning system and prompt evacuation as well as adequate and accessible emergency exits,” said BIEN.

The lack of complete and accurate details that could have led to the unfortunate fate of the 37, they said, calls for an “immediate, independent and thorough investigation.”

“What happened in SSI in Davao only shows that even workers in the so-called “sunshine industry” are not free from fatal work hazards. Rather, this gloomy incident only brings attention to the government to look into every BPO company’s compliance with occupational health and safety standards. Justice must be served to the victims and those accountable must be penalized so as to avoid future workplace deaths,” demanded BIEN.

Consolation, recovery

As of 3pm, one body has been recovered from the fire site.

Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte’s Facebook page posted that Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte’s orders were to find all the ‘missing persons.’

Around 5am today, Mayor Paolo Duterte posted on his Facebook account that “the ground commander of [Bureau of Fire Protection] already announced that their chances of survival is zero.”

President Rodrigo Duterte was shown consoling with the relatives of the victims in the photos shared by the Presidential Photographers Division around 10am.

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