By Ellson Quismorio
“Magnificent Seven” member, Magdalo Partylist Rep. Gary Alejano is pushing for the passage of a bill that seeks to modernize the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).
“Fire is a serious threat to life and property. Rapid urbanization and congestion in cities make fire hazards more common and devastating. The BFP then needs to keep up with this predicament by improving the tools and methods at its disposal,” Alejano said.
The Marine captain-turned-congressman made the call during the observation of Fire Prevention Month this March, which also coincides with the start of summer.
Summer, with its soaring temperatures, has always been associated with the increased risk of fires, at least in the Philippines.
Recognizing the need to upgrade the BFP, Alejano filed House Bill (HB) 2728 which provides for the implementation of the Fire Protection Modernization Program.
Such program will cover the following: 1) establishment of fire stations and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in all local government units; 2) upgrade of existing equipment and services; 3) creation of specialized fire protection and related services; and, 4) development of personnel.
Alejano originally proposed an amount of P8 billion for the entire modernization program. However, upon further consultation and consideration, he intends to propose an amendment on the appropriations.
“To fully realize a modern and responsive fire protection agency, I intend to forward a higher appropriation, based on the proposal of BFP, amounting to P80 billion for 10 years. Extending the modernization program to 10 years is a compromise so as not to burden the national budget also,” he explained.
The bill also provides for the creation of a special fund solely for the retirement, disability and death benefits for BFP members and scholarship for dependents.
HB 2728 was referred to the House committee on public order and safety and is currently being tackled by a technical working group.
The Magnificent Seven is the de facto opposition bloc in the House of Representatives.