MANILA, Philippines – On Friday, October 7, two Senators urged the Bureau of Fire Protection to focus and make the purchase of firetrucks a priority rather than weapons or guns for firefighters.
At the same time as the Senate Finance Committee’s hearing on the 2023 proposed budget of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Senate Minority Floor Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III asked for a report on the procurement of firearms in relation to the implementation of the BFP Modernization Act.
It can be remembered that in 2021, former President Rodrigo Duterte signed the BFP Modernization Act that allows firefighters to carry guns in their operations.
BFP Chief Director Louie Puracan said that under the law, they will buy 2,282 firearms from their personnel from 146 cities and 72 regional offices which the Department of Budget and Management requested not to budget for them due to the shortage. in the fund.
Puracan asked the DBM to allow them to use the agency’s P94-million savings from the firetruck procurement for the purchase of weapons worth P45-million.
“May savings kasi kami ngayon around P94 million out of the savings from the procurement of firetrucks and we request for DBM to authorize us to use our savings for the procurement of these firearms,” ani Puracan.
“I’m saddened with the idea to use savings from fire trucks to buy firearms. So my question is, if that is within your power and authority under your review system, do it, but 45 million pesos is good for how many firetrucks?” Pimentel asked.
He replied and said that each firetruck costs P15-million.
“Good for three (firetrucks). So, the policy question is: three more firetrucks or 2,000 plus firearms? So I think for the Bureau of Fire Protection, that should be a no-brainer because you know what you are supposed to do,” anang Senador.
Senator Nancy Binay immediately seconded Pimentel’s question and said that the BFP should prioritize the purchase of firetrucks and contact the PNP to address public order concerns when there is a fire.
“I also support the call of the minority floor leader that it might be better to just buy firetrucks instead of guns because if the PNP and the BFP have good coordination, the PNP can provide the security for our fire personnel during when we have fires,” said Binay.
Senators in the BFP are also focusing on local government units that lack firetrucks after Senator JV Ejercito revealed that there are no fire stations in 203 LGUs. RNT/JGC
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