SENATOR Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go urged his fellow lawmakers to support the passage of a bill pushing for the modernization of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and the strengthening of the country’s fire prevention campaign and information drive as he seeks to better safeguard Filipinos from fires and other hazards.
In a public hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs jointly with Local Government, Civil Service, Government Reorganization and Professional Regulation Ways and Means committees, Go underscored the need to modernize the country’s firefighting capability through Senate Bill (SB) 204 or the “Act Strengthening and Modernizing the Bureau of Fire Protection, Providing Funds Therefor, and for Other Purposes” which he filed on July last year.
“The safety of every Filipino is one of the top priorities of the government,” Go said during his opening statement.
But more than modernizing the BFP, Go stressed the need to enhance the country’s fire education and safety measures.
“I want to add ‘yung fire education safety measures natin, hindi lamang naman po para i-improve ‘yung equipment natin. ‘Yung atin dito, kung papaano i-prevent at maturuan ang mga kababayan natin,” Go said, adding that fires usually start from small houses in crowded areas, not in big establishment buildings.
“Hindi lamang po dapat ‘yung establishment ang tinitingnan ninyo. ‘Yung mga bahay po ang tingnan niyong mabuti, ‘yung mga maliliit na bahay para maiwasan natin ito. ‘Di naman po usually nag-e-emanate ‘yung sunog dito sa mga establishment. Kadalasan dito sa mga maliliit talaga at mga liblib na lugar,” he added. “‘Yun po ang gusto nating pag-aralan kung papaano maiiwasan ito.”
Go said that fire hazards are among the risks that threaten the safety of Filipinos as they become more frequent during the dry season due to the high temperature and humidity.
“It is only timely to discuss this public concern as we commemorate the Fire Prevention Month throughout the whole month of March when the temperature and humidity start to reach higher levels, causing a rise in reported fire cases around the country,” Go said.
Citing latest data from the BFP, Go argued for the urgency to resolve the pressing issue of fire hazards during the hearing, saying “In 2019, more than 16,000 fire incidents were reported throughout the country. These hazards were not only destructive to property but have even resulted in a number of deaths in a matter of minutes.”
The senator also shared his experiences of personally witnessing the devastating impact of these hazards on the lives of Filipinos. Go frequently visits fire victims in communities around the country to listen to their concerns and provide solutions to their daily struggles.
“Ako po mismo ay saksi sa hinagpis na nararamdaman ng ating mga kababayan na biktima ng mga sunog. Buwan-buwan, ilang insidente ng sunog ang aking binibisita sa iba’t ibang panig ng bansa upang makapagbigay ng tulong sa mga kababayan nating nabiktima nito,” Go said.
“Labis ang kirot na nararamdaman ng aking puso sa tuwing nakakakita ako ng mga pamilyang Pilipino na nawawalan ng mahal sa buhay dahil lamang sa kapabayaan at dahil lamang sa mga sakunang gaya ng sunog na maaari namang maiwasan. Binibisita ko rin po sila, gusto ko rin pong mag-iwan ng kaunting ngiti sa panahon ng kanilang pagdadalamhati,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte, himself, understands the severity of the fire incidents the country faces, according to Go, and that is why fire prevention and modernization initiatives are part of the priorities of the Duterte Administration.