SENATOR Joseph Victor Ejercito has asked the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to stop distributing firetrucks to cities and instead make a priority poor municipalities in the country that do not even have one.
Ejercito, during a recent hearing of the Senate finance committee on the proposed 2017 budget of the DILG, questioned officials of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) on why it turned over brand-new Rosenbauer firetrucks to cities that are capable of buying their own firetrucks when there are more than 300 4th and 5th class municipalities in the country that do not even have a single firetruck.
According to Ejercito, there are 316 local government units (LGUs) that do not have firetrucks but instead of making them the priority recipients of the Austria-made Rosenbauer firetrucks, the DILG distributed the units to different cities in country including those in Metro Manila.
Cities, he said, are financially capable of procuring their own firetrucks and the BFP should stop listening to local city officials who are asking for units.
“Why is BFP prioritizing the cities in the distribution of firetrucks when there are still many fourth and fifth class municipalities that do not have one? Cities can take care of themselves, you should give the trucks to municipalities,” Ejercito told the officials of the DILG and the BFP.
DILG Secretary Ismael Sueno assured senators that they would put atop the list municipalities in the distribution of firetrucks.
According to Sueno, the DILG will be procuring additional 120 firetrucks and 33 of them will be turned over to various towns in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
BFP officer-in-charge Bonny Baruelo said fire stations under construction in the ARMM still do not have firetrucks.
Ejercito also questioned why the DILG chose the Rosenbauer firetrucks over common brands of trucks that can be easily repaired.
While the Austria-made Rosenbauers are considered the best of its kind, the senator said, getting spare parts is not easy, eventually making the firetrucks unusable in the future.
Baruelo explained that they do not have a say on the firetruck brand under a government-to-government procurement.
Meanwhile, he said, the BFP has no complaints on the Austria-made firetrucks.