The surviving families of the 72 workers who died in a recent fire at a slippers factory in Valenzuela City received on May 20, cash worth P83,300 as assistance from the city government, representative’s offices, socio-civic organizations, and private individuals.
Of this amount, which was handed to the families during the Public Assistance Caravan at the Valenzuela City Hall, P30, 000 came from the city government.
Mayor Rex Gatchalian said that beside the money, the local Public Employment Services Office (PESO) will also aid the families find jobs, while their college-age members are offered scholarships at city government-run higher education institutions Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela and Valenzuela Polytechnic College.
This assistance package should “get the families back to their feet”, the local chief executive said.
Mayor Gatchalian also assured the families the city government will provide them all the support they would need until justice is served them.
On the other hand, First District Representative Sherwin Gatchalian and Alay Buhay Party List Representative Weslie Gatchalian each donated P5,000 to every family.
Local business organizations Chamber of Commerce and Industry - Valenzuela and Valenzuela Business Club granted each family P14, 000 and P2,500, respectively; while the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry put in P10,000.
Buddhist charitable group Tzu Chi Foundation donated P5,000 to every family.
Mr. and Mrs. William Gatchalian, Mayor Gatchalian’s parents, awarded the families P10,000 each, while US-based Filipino Guia Ibarra afforded each with P1,800.
National agencies also set up their own help desks at the assistance “one-stop shop”.
Divine Raymundo, Senior Analyst at Social Security System (SSS), said kin of the victims who are members of the social insurance agency are entitled to death benefits.
Likewise, those whose dead are members of Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG) will receive dividends and death benefits.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is aiding families start their own livelihood by supplying them with raw materials and equipment.
'It pained me to see her jewelry'
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police Scene of the Crime Operations (PNP-SOCO) put out the victims’ personal belongings at a conference room for the families to see.
Around 60 pieces of personal belongings had been recovered along with the cadavers from the gutted factory, among them jewelry, dentures, and identification cards.
PNP Crime Laboratory Deputy Director Emmanuel Aranas said that along with DNA samples from the families, these items will help the investigators identify the bodies, which had been burned beyond recognition after the 7-hour fire on May 13.
Setting eyes on objects once owned by their fallen loved ones for the first time since the fire, the families couldn’t help shedding tears.
Irenea Cojanes recognized among the stash of personal effects her 20-year-old niece Jerrelyn Callago’s necklace and watch.
Somehow, seeing them has begun for her the process of coming to terms with Jerrelyn’s death.
“Ngayon lang nagkalinaw sa amin na nakasama siya sa sunog dahil kasama ‘yong mga alahas n’ya (It has become clear to us her family that she really is among those who perished in the fire now that we’ve seen her jewelry),” Cojanes said. “Nasaktan ako n’ong pagkakita ko sa alahas n’ya. Hindi ko kaya (It pained me to see her jewelry. I couldn’t stand it.).”