Negligence Plus Corruption Equals Disaster
By Apolinario Villalobos
The latest fire disaster in Valenzuela that is now considered as the worst to date has again put under scrutiny how local governments units and government agencies operate. As expected, the ongoing investigation is hampered by appalling finger-pointing among parties concerned. With the glaring building violations committed by the owner of the factory, can’t the investigators at least start from that point? And, then go further by asking who conducted the inspection and made the recommendation for the issuance of the building permit? They can check also the negligence of the welder. Finally, proceed as to who issued, or better, signed the building permit? Why the owners of the factory are still scot-free, is also one big question, and there is no indication whatsoever that they are being investigated! How can the local government and the law enforcing agencies be that lenient and numb to the reality?
The latest disaster just confirms that the operating system of the government cannot be trusted as it is pockmarked with dishonesty, corruption and negligence. The latter happens when, in the processing of building permits, no follow-ups by government offices concerned are made for delayed submission of requirements that should be an alarming signal for fishy goings-on between the implementing personnel and the clients. Such negligence eventually results to the oversight – with folders containing incomplete required documents, and only when disaster occurs, do they recall having overlooked incomplete transactions….but, only after lives have been wasted!
Disaster drills, though, required are neglected for implementation by many companies. If ever pressed for the holding of such, they are done half-heartedly, so that employees fail to have a notion on what to do in case the real disaster occurs. Inspecting agencies that require them just shrug their shoulders and don’t give a damn. In some cases, approvals are even given in exchange for favors. In this regard, a friend who used to work as an inspection officer of a local government unit was able to buy a brand new car from this kind of endeavor. He honestly admitted that he resigned as he had been bothered by his conscience and suffered from sleepless nights.
With the onset of the school opening, we expect well-publicized and supposedly full blast “inspections” of dormitories and boarding houses for students. Expect too, the pronouncements of inspectors as regards the number of establishments that they ordered closed, to show the world that they are diligently doing their job – supported with photos. Allow two months or a little more and everything will be again back to “normal”. It is always like that. Do we then, have to continuously wonder and exclaim a big “why”, every time people are trapped and died in buildings without fire exit or with malfunctioning water sprinklers?
On the other hand and in all honesty, if the law on fire prevention and building safety will be implemented strictly, for sure, only a handful structures, from homes to commercial buildings will be left standing!