DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya––Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III had ordered a work stoppage against a construction firm in Ambaguio town, Nueva Vizcaya province, after the deaths of four workers buried when a slope protection wall collapsed last week.

In a phone interview, Bello said Sunday, Sept. 6, that the regional office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Cagayan Valley served the order to John Vic Viernes, 39, of Barangay Don Mariano in Ambaguio due to occupational safety and health standards violations.

Bello said an investigation is underway to determine Viernes’ liability for the deaths of Christopher Padua, Carlos Tome, Rafael Villar, 42, and John Retamola.

The victims were clearing an excavation site in preparation for the casting of a gravel bed when the soil suddenly eroded, burying them alive on Sept. 3.

Bello said an inspection team from the DOLE initially noted the lack of a safety officer, first aider, appropriate personal protective equipment for construction, safety signage, first aid kit, and approved construction safety and health program when they visited the site.(Villamor Visaya Jr., Philippine Daily Inquirer News Correspondent)