President Duterte personally justified the proposal to arm firefighters in the country, citing a need for the latter to protect themselves from aggressive citizens during fire incidents.
On top of this, armed firemen can also be tapped to address situations concerning law and order, he said.
Duterte made these remarks during the ceremonial signing of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Modernization Act in Malacañang on Friday, Sept. 10.
In his speech, the President said firefighters’ line of work is fraught with many dangers.
In particular, he cited situations in areas where houses are very closely packed together, with narrow roads that force firefighters to lay down long hoses in an effort to reach the flames.
“Kanya kanyang estilo diyan, eh. Ang problema, pag may sunog, lahat ng tao gusto unahin, especially if it’s a conflagration, that is really a big one, gusto nila unahin ang lugar nila (It’s every man for himself. The problem is if there’s a very big conflagration, everyone would want for their properties to be saved first),” Duterte said.
“At ‘pag hindi, magalit (And if it doesn’t, these people would get mad). Either they threaten the bomberos (firemen) who are helpless because— well, [they are] fighting the fire, they have to also address the challenges dito sa kanilang nagagalit, nagdala ng itak, minsan paputok ng baril (with the angry people who sometimes bring cleaver knives and sometimes, they fire a gun),” he added.
“Yung iba, sa galit pinuputol yung hose (Some, due to their anger, would cut the hose). So there are so many challenges in the work of a bombero (fireman), in the day of his life, na kailangang protektahan (that should be protected),” he continued.
However, the President said he will leave the decision to the lawmakers.
“We thought of just providing sana yung mga baril kung– hindi lahat (the guns to– not everyone). Well, that is for the wisdom of Congress, we will bow to it,” Duterte said.
“May unit o sa (There would be a unit or a) function who’d really be just to ward off threats and destruction of government property. Hirap sila kung wala eh. Tinatakot sila eh (It’s difficult for them to work without it. They are being threatened),” he added.
President Duterte likewise said the armed firemen can be deployed as security forces.
“We thought of just arming them also, tutal gobyerno ‘to (after all they are part of the government), and they can be called upon during emergencies to contribute to the law and order of the place,” he said.
“It’s sad to say it but ang ano dito is, symbol ng ano is baril. Kung hindi ka makakita ng baril, hindi susunod. That is the reason why one of the things why sa modernization kasali yun (gun is like a symbol in this country. People won’t obey you if you don’t have it. That is why we wanted it to be part of the modernization),” he added.