President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law Republic Act (RA) 11589 that will strengthen and modernize the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).
During the ceremonial signing of the BFP Modernization Act on Friday, Duterte said the new law would help boost the morale, efficiency, responsiveness, and professionalism of the bureau’s personnel as they continue to fulfill their mandate to save people’s lives.
“The Bureau of Fire Protection has been instrumental in the success of our collective efforts to provide rescue and relief operations in areas hit by destructive fire and calamities,” Duterte said in a keynote speech delivered at Malacañang Palace’s Rizal Hall.
RA 11589, Duterte said, will enable the BFP to embark on a 10-year modernization period, transforming it into a modern and world-class institution.
“This will consistently guarantee our safety and become the source of pride. It is my hope that this milestone will further inspire the men and women of the BFP to hone their skills and expertise in areas of fire prevention and suppression as well as emergency, medical response and disaster preparedness and resilience,” Duterte said.
Duterte also defended the arming of BFP personnel. saying the move would allow them to do their job without worrying of the “fraught of so many dangers”.
Allowing firefighters to carry a gun would help them ward off threats and destruction of government property, Duterte said.
“Hirap sila kung wala eh. Tinatakot sila eh (They are facing challenges because they are getting threats),” he said. “So, para naman medyo buo ang loob ng bumbero (So, to boost the firefighters’ confidence, we thought of just arming them also, tutal gobyerno ‘to (since they are part of the government) and they can be called upon during emergencies to contribute to the law and order of the place.”
RA 11589 is one of the Duterte government’s priority measures.
Malacañang has yet to release a copy of the law that provides the BFP with modern firefighting tools and life-saving equipment, more employees, and training.
It also broadens the BFP’s mandate by including fire prevention and suppression in economic zones, disaster risk response, and emergency management.
The newly signed law also creates the BFP Modernization Trust Fund, which will include appropriations for BFP modernization, as well as 80 percent of the share of the BFP from all taxes, fees, and fines collected pursuant to Republic Act 9514 or the Fire Code of the Philippines.
Other sources for the modernization fund include proceeds from the disposal of excess and uneconomically repairable equipment and other movable assets of the BFP, supplemental assistance from Congress due to surpluses, loans, grants, or donations, and the fund’s interest income.
Under RA 11589, local government units are authorized and enjoined to have local equity in the modernization of BFP units stationed in their respective jurisdictions.
The law also allows the Security and Protection Unit to be mobilized and provided with equipment “appropriate for self-defense and the defense of others during exceptional emergencies, especially those related to a disturbance of peace and order where the assistance of the BFP is required or sought”.
The Security and Protection Unit will be equipped with appropriate defensive and civilian-oriented training by the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Philippine National Police. (Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos/PNA)