THE Makati City government on Friday assailed the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) for causing delays in the processing and issuance of business permits at the City Hall.
Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay said his office has been receiving a lot of complaints from business owners that it is taking them much longer than usual to secure their business permits because of the slow processing by BFP personnel of their assessment and payment of Fire Code taxes and fees.
“Makati and the other local government units have been taking steps to
support the national government’s program to cut down processing time for business permits. But we have here a national government agency burdening investors by adding a layer of red tape,” he said.
The mayor also said his office has been receiving numerous complaints from business owners regarding harassment by fire inspectors of the BFP.
“What’s worse, there have been mounting complaints of fire inspectors harassing business owners and these complaints have not been acted upon by the BFP,” Binay said.
Based on the complaints raised by the business community, some BFP personnel are using the Fire Code to force or coerce businesses into buying fire extinguishers and sprinklers from fire personnel themselves.
“No wonder businessmen feel that corruption has worsened,” Binay added.
Under the Fire Code of the Philippines of 2008, a Fire Safety Inspection Certificate (FSIC) is a prerequisite for the issuance of a business or mayor’s permit and other permits.
Starting this year, the assessment and payment of Fire Code taxes and fees are no longer handled by the City Business Permit Office, but by BFP personnel in a separate area at the ground floor of the City Hall main building.
The BFP is invoking the implementing guidelines of the Revised Fire Code of the Philippines of 2008, which has vested the authority to assess and collect the said fees on the agency, to justify the takeover.
Binay said the added layer to the business permit application process has become a burden to business owners and investors.
“There are long lines, the processing is slow and tedious. This is not the way to attract investors,” he said.
The mayor also called on the concerned national government agency to immediately take action to address the valid issues of harassment and coercion raised by the business sector.
“The reports of harassment by some BFP personnel are alarming and need to be addressed by the BFP with urgency,” Binay said.
What the BFP is doing, he added, is counterproductive and undermines the Aquino administration’s goal of making the country more attractive to investors.
“It is disappointing that one national government agency can throw a roadblock on our President’s program,” he added.