Lawmakers of the progressive Makabayan bloc are urging President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to look into what they said were the “restrictive and questionable” fire truck procurement bidding process of the Bureau of Fire Protection, following fires that gutted at least P1-million worth of properties and claimed lives in recent days.
The Makabayan bloc claimed that the “these restrictive BFP bidding processes have possibly given undue advantages to favored suppliers and possibly prejudiced, not only other competent suppliers but also the public and the government in general.”
“Clearly, when the bidding process is subject to collusion by the procuring entities and some parties, genuine free and open competition as mandated by law is impossible. The resulting corrupting effect is gravely disadvantageous to the government, which is now already saddled with huge budget deficits and a heavy debt burden.”
Most recently, at least 21 houses were razed by a fire that broke out in a residential and commercial area in Barangay Basak, Lapu-Lapu City at dawn of February 4. In Sitio Lupo, Barangay Carmen, Toledo City, a poultry farm went up in smoke at 10:18 a.m. of February 3.
On January 30, a fire hit a residential area in Tondo, Manila at 12:18 p.m. where a 12-year-old boy died.
Two residents were hurt in a fire that affected at least 30 informal settler families on Gumamela Street in Barangay Roxas, Quezon City on Saturday, January 28.
In Barangay Tagbakin, Atimonan, Quezon, a woman died when a fire broke out at around 8:50 p.m. also on January 28.
Incidentally, around this time last year, the BFP reported that fire incidents rose by 13 percent compared to that of 2021. This translates to 2,103 cases – an increase of 240 incidents from the recorded 1,863 in 2021.
“Lives are lost. Properties which took years to build are burned down in a matter of minutes. This is not only disheartening, but more so, it should enrage the Filipino people because the greed of a few individuals cause the destructive cycle that makes the whole nation suffer,” Makabayan said in a statement.
“As a country highly prone to man-made disasters, the Philippines has had its fair share of tragedies caused by unmanaged and ill-responded fire.”
“Particularly in the provinces, local government units either cope with fire response through inundated that have definitely seen better days, or wait for fire brigades from neighboring towns because their municipalities have no fire trucks at all.”
The lawmakers called on Marcos to “probe the people who lead the BFP during the alleged restrictive and questionable fire truck procurement bidding process of the BFP.”
They specifically mentioned Interior Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos to make true his statement when he said that ‘he will do a massive internal cleansing of his department.’
“He (Abalos) should begin by supporting the investigation against unscrupulous manipulators at the BFP. If those who manipulate the bidding process, and the powerful forces that allowed them to, will be held accountable by law, Abalos will be upheld by Filipinos as a man of his word.”
“Whereas, it will also reflect the sincere intention of the administration he is working in raising the standard of governance bar none,” Makabayan said in a statement.
Manila Standard has sought comment from the BFP, but it has yet to respond as of posting time.
“Fire is an uncontrollable disaster. It can and it will happen. As we gradually go back to our normal mundane lives, the government must not only be aggressive in educating the people about fire preventive measures.”
“It must be coupled with action of ensuring that every LGU in the country has modern firetrucks which can respond ‘in the blink of an eye.’,” they said.
“By firing the predators at the BFP, and replacing them with competent leaders with untainted reputation, Pres. Marcos and Sec. Abalos will prove that theirs is not all lip service but a fresh, sincere leadership that is truly ‘on fire’ against corruption.” With Roy Tomandao
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