Two overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were killed in a blaze that struck their construction site in Saudi Arabia early Sunday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement released Monday.
The victims were identified as Jessie Alata Pacetes and Reynaldo Barroga Castro, both heavy equipment drivers and operators employed by a major Saudi construction company that was working on a road project in Najran.
Consul General Edgar Badajos said the two victims died in their sleeping quarters at their jobsite located some 60 kilometers from Najran.
The Department of Foreign Affairs expressed its sympathies to the families of the victims.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of our two kababayan who lost their lives in the tragedy,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said after he was informed of the incident.
He added that the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah has sent a team in Najran to work out arrangements with the employer for the immediate repatriation of the remains of the victims and secure whatever benefits that are due them.
Although the fire was believed to have been caused by faulty electrical wiring, the Philippine Consulate is seeking confirmation from local authorities on the real cause of the fire. — UNTV News & Rescue
by Aileen Cerrudo | Posted on Thursday, March 21st, 2019
Several residents of Brgy. Damayang Lagi in Quezon City rummage through ashes and burnt debris after a fire broke out on Wednesday.
It was their home, or what’s left of it.
The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) said 750 families were affected by the fire, with P2.5 million worth of damage.
These residents still returned, hoping that there might still be something left to save. With the slate burnt to ashes, they have to rebuild their lives once again.
Paulino Yberzaba, a resident, lined up in the barangay office because he was suffering from high blood pressure. Even if he is in a wheelchair, he still patiently waited for medical assistance.
He was wearing unmatched slippers.
“Itong tsinelas ko tingnan mo, (look at my slippers)” he pointed out. “Hindi ko nakita ang kabila nito. Madilim na, (I could’t find the right pair because it was already dark)“
Paulino was not able to save anything from the fire, just the clothes on his back.
Only a stone wall is left of his home, but still, he is thankful because his wife and children are safe. However, Paulino laments the difficulty of starting anew.
“Kung mayroon makatulong. Ako baldado na ko. [walang perang] maibili ng gamit, (if there is someone that can help. I am already disabled and we have no money to buy clothes)” he adds.
A doctor, several nurses and midwives visited the area to assist residents in need of medical attention. Food and water assistance were also distributed.
“Mayroon nang mga na-high blood, may mga ubo’t sipon, nilalagnat, inuubo. May mga nasugatan (Some [residents] are suffering from high blood pressure, other have colds and fever. Others are injured)” Jocelyn Ledanga, a midwife, said.
As of this writing, the local government has provided more than 10 temporary shelters for the victims. Said shelters can accommodate two to four families each.
Another resident, Zoraina Mamasalen, is content with the help of the government.
“Okay naman po. Maayos naman po iyong assist ng barangay kapitan po namin, (Things are alright. Our barangay captain is assisting properly)” she said.
Zoraina is among the residents who were able to stay at these temporary shelters. Others, however, are not so lucky.
There are no proper evacuation centers that can accommodate all the residents affected by the fire. Some of them had no choice but to stay in the streets, with nothing to do but wait for help to arrive.
The relief and cash assistance that are meant for these residents, however, were taken by individuals posing as victims of the fire.
Barangay Captain, Boy Tanyag said financial assistance range from P1,000 to P2,000 or more. But there are individuals who list themselves as victims in order to avail of these aid.
“Isang pamilya lang. Nagpapalista limang tao. (In one family, there are five individuals who register)” he said.
The BFP continues investigation on the cause of fire. They said it might be due to problems in the power lines.
Meanwhile, the government continues to call for aid to help the victims rebuild their lives.—Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Mai Bermudez)
by Robie de Guzman | Posted on Saturday, February 23rd, 2019
MANILA, Philippines — Flames engulfed the Bureau of Customs building at the Port of Manila on Friday night, February 22.
At least 30 firetrucks and several ambulances rushed to the site to battle the fire, according to BOC spokesperson, Erastus Austria.
“[We are] still determining [from] which office the fire originated,” Austria said in a series of messages sent to reporters.
“We are securing our personnel as of the moment,” he added.
The fire, which started around 9 p.m., reached fifth alarm past 10 p.m., according to the Bureau of Fire Protection Manila.
Meanwhile, a lawmaker urged Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año to conduct an in-depth investigation into the incident.
Misamis Oriental Second district Representative Juliet Uy, said in a statement that Año should assign the best arson investigators on the case to thoroughly and scientifically investigate the cause of the fire.
“Given the notoriety of the Bureau of Customs for graft and corruption, it is understandable for the public to be skeptical about the cause of fire that has razed the offices of the Bureau of Customs at the Manila Bay Port Area,” the statement read.
“Their investigation must be meticulous, thorough and scientific,” she added.
Uy, a member of the House Committee on Public Order and Safety, also expressed hope that the fire will cause only minimal disruptions in BOC operations, especially at the Port Area which involves the business sector and the flow of goods in and out of the Manila harbor.
“Perhaps some of the operations can be transferred to the Manila International Container Port,”she suggested. “Maybe, if necessary, some shipments can be diverted to the Subic Bay or Batangas Port,” she concluded.
DILG Sec. Año has yet to issue any comment on the matter. — Robie de Guzman
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