Commentary by Perry Diaz
SBMA’s bold and daring decision to issue a stop order on all construction projects at the Hanjin shipyard at the Subic Bay Freeport is commendable. Indeed, this is like David kicking Goliath in the groin where it hurts most. Hanjin’s atrocious record of construction deaths is so blatant — 12 Filipino laborers killed since 2006 — that SBMA’s order to “cease and desist” comes at a time when another issue is broiling — Hanjin’s plundering of the environment. The condos built by Hanjin in the Subic rain forest — exclusively for South Korean Hanjin officials — and the pollution of the rivers leading to the bay are violations that should not be condoned.
Concidentally, SMBA’s action happened on the eve of President Gloria Arroyo’s 10-day U.S. junket. I am pretty sure that she’ll be furious when she finds out about it. However, I wouldn’t be suprised that upon her return she’ll intervene — for the second time — in favor of Hanjin. And more than likely, SBMA’s stop order would be rescinded or ‘heads will fall.” That’s just the way this Arroyo regime operates.
I do hope, however, that SBMA’s management would resist the forthcoming pressure from Malacanang. They’re doing the right thing and what they did should become a model for local governments to follow in protecting their own constituents and environment.
SBMA finally suspends Hanjin after another tragic accident at shipyard
SUBIC, Philippines — Government regulators here have ordered the South Korean shipbuilding giant Hanjin Construction Corp. Ltd. (HCCL), to stop all construction activities after another Filipino worker was killed and four others were injured in what regulators described as a freak accident Friday afternoon.
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) administrator Armand Arreza issued the cease and desist order minutes after he learned about the accident from a Korean official of Hanjin.
“The (safety) situation at the shipyard has become alarming,” Arreza said.
Initial reports from the SBMA investigation unit identified the fatality as Mario Atrero, a 52-year-old employee of HHCL from Candelaria, Zambales.
A formwork at a dry-dock construction site collapsed due to strong winds, killing Atrero.
Atrero and several other workers reportedly took shelter under the metal structure during a sudden downpour around 4 p.m.
Four other workers were injured: Joel Alido of Palauig, Zambales; Darvin Silva of San Antonio, Zambales; David Alcayaga of Castillejos, Zambales; and Leody Abad also of Palauig.
SBMA records showed that the recent fatality brought to 12 the number of deaths recorded at the shipyard since Hanjin began its operations in 2006, with most of the accidents involving workers hired by Hanjin subcontractors.
“We’re doing a thorough investigation of each accident, and while it may take time before actions are made because we go through the whole process, we’d like to assure the public that the SBMA will do all that’s necessary to ensure the safety of workers in Subic,” he added.
Prior to the recent incident, two other workers died.
Only last week, Arreza said, the SBMA has recommended the termination of contracts of three subcontractors who were found to have been remiss in implementing safety requirements at the shipyard.
Arreza identified the firms as Trigon/Bodahh Inc., whose worker fell from the roof of a building on March 11; Globe Distribution Services, whose two workers were pinned to death by collapsing metal beam on March 10; and DMK/Philnorkor, whose worker fell from a
moving truck in December last year.
SBMA said that unless Hanjin can improve its safety situation, regulators might be force to stop not just the construction activities, but “also its shipbuilding activities.” – GMANews.TV