(Lead) DOLE sends 2 inspectors to check Semirara coal mine accident

February 15, 2013 11:30 pm 

By Azer Parrocha

MANILA, Feb. 15 — Two labor and employment inspectors were sent to remote Semirara Island with strict instructions to determine the compliance of the company operating the coal mine with labor and occupational safety and health standards.

The two are Lorraine Villegas, officer-in-charge of the DOLE Antique Field Office, and Engr. Michael Gison, labor employment officer.

They traveled from San Jose to Libertad, Antique where they should have boarded a boat to Caluya.

This follows the death of five miners after the west wall of the Panian pit mine collapsed last Wednesday, burying under mud and debris 13 workers and seven mining equipment of the Semirara Coal and Mining Corporation.

Three of the workers, however, have been rescued but five are still missing.

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said Thursday that regulating mine safety, health, and sanitation should be done by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

On the other hand, mine operators should submit to the DOLE, through its regional directors and the Bureau of Working Conditions, reports of mine accidents and on matters related to occupational safety and health.

"I have been informed that inclement weather prevented the early arrival of the two DOLE inspectors, but they are on standby to go to the remote island once the rough seas become calmer," Baldoz added.

She also said that the two inspectors will coordinate with the investigating team of the DILG and DOE and will have updates by Sunday.

Semirara can only be reached from the mainland of Antique through Caluya municipality via boat trip.

From Caluya, it will still take two to four hours to reach the island, also by pump boat. (PNA)



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