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Survivors of the ETON Residence tragedy continue the search for justice

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Two years ago, on January 27, 2011, a gondola at the ETON Residences in Makati City fell, killing 10 workers. For two years now, the survivors, their families and supporters continue the search for justice for the death of Benbon Cristobal, Kevin Mabunga, Joel Avecilla, Celso Mabuting, Michael Tatlonghari, Tisoy Perez, Vicente Piñon, William Bañez, Jaykie Legarda, Jeffrey Diocado and the injuring of Ruel Perez.

ETON Residences is one of the many projectsof ETON Properties Philippines, Inc., a company owned by Lucio Tan. Tan belongs to the top 10 richest Filipinos. According to Forbes Magazine, he had a fortune of USD 2.8B in 2011 (2nd wealthiest Filipino). Come June 2012, the owner of ETON Residences has amassed USD 4.5B in wealth (2nd wealthiest Filipino).

“It has been a good two years for Mr. Lucio Tan,” said Noel Colina, Executive Director of the Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (IOHSAD) and co-convenor of the Justice for ETON11
Network. “I wish I could say the same for the victims of the ETON tragedy, who remain poor in wealth and still hungry for justice.”


As part of the activities to mark the second year of the tragedy, the Justice for Eton11 Network, the families and survivors held a candle lighting protest at the heels of the ETON Residences today, January
25, 2013. They paid tribute and remembered their loved ones who lost their lives while working on the construction of the 32 story edifice. They brought photos of the victims along with their grievances against Lucio Tan and ETON Properties.

On Sunday, January 27, 2013, a film showing of “Piyon”. a video documentary on the ETON tragedy will be held in Tabing Ilog, Cogeo, Antipolo Rizal where the families of the victims reside.

Long Journey to Justice

Several cases have been filed against Lucio Tan, ETON and other people who are responsible forensuring the safety of the worksite. The cases that were filed include reckless imprudence resulting to multiple homicide, employment of minor filed at the Makati Regional Trial Court, and labor cases such as non-payment of minimum wages, unsafe working conditions, non-compliance to occupational health and safety regulations resulting to death, non-registration of social security, non-payment of SSS and violation of labor standards filed at the National Labor Relations Commission.

“Lucio Tan and the other respondents clearly violated Republic Act 9231 or the ACT PROVIDING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF THE WORST FORMS OF CHILD LABOR AND AFFORDING STRONGER PROTECTION FOR THE WORKING CHILD when they hired Kevin Mabunga, who was just 17 years old when he fell along with the other 10 workers,” opined Colina.

R.A. 9231
Section 12-D. Prohibition Against Worst Form of Child Labor “No child shall be engaged in the worst form of child labor shall refer to any of the following:

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(4) Work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is hazardous or likely to be harmful to the health, safety or morals of children, such that it:

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c) Is performed underground, underwater or at dangerous heights; or

d) Involves the use of dangerous machinery, equipment and tools such as power-driven or

e) Exposes the child to physical danger such as, but not limited to the dangerous feats of balancing, physical strength or contortion, or which requires the manual transport of heavy loads;

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According to Colina, RA 9231 imposes heavy penalties for violators:

Sec. 16. Penal Provisions - “b) Any person who violates the provision of Section 12-D of this act or the employer of the subcontractor who
employs, or the one who facilitates the employment of a child in hazardous work, shall suffer the penalty of a fine of not less than One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) but not more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00), or imprisonment of not less than twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years, or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court.”

“We need an end to the impunity in the labor sector, wherein employers reneged on their duty to protect their workers resulting in harm and death. Money claims will never be enough and violators must be held accountable. Putting them behind bars will be a great deterrent for other companies who continue to violate safety standards at the expense of their workforce,” ended Colina.