One of Bong Go’s priority bills
SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for signing into law Republic Act No. 11589 which mandates the Bureau of Fire Protection to develop and implement a fire protection modernization program. Go is the principal author and co-sponsor of Senate Bill No. 1832 on which the law was based.
“As the principal author of the bill, I just want to thank the President for signing into law the BFP Modernization Act. This is one of the priority bills I filed in my first month as Senator,” said Go.
With the enactment of the measure, Go said that the government can now pursue and invest further in the fire bureau’s modernization and capacity enhancement efforts, as he expressed his concern for the plight of Filipinos who have been displaced by fires.
“Importante po na mabigyan ng suporta ang modernization ng ating Bureau of Fire Protection dahil napaka-importante ng tungkulin na ginagampanan nila upang makapagligtas ng buhay,” said Go.
“Halos linggo-linggo po akong bumababa sa mga nasusunugan. Nakikita ko po ang hirap ng ating mga kababayang nasunugan. Kahit isang bahay lang po ang masunog, damay po pati ang kapitbahay. Maraming pamilya ang apektado. Kaya po dapat lang na palakasin ang kapasidad ng BFP sa pagresponde sa sunog,” he added.
RA 11589 mandates the BFP to develop and implement a fire protection modernization program. This will include the acquisition of modern fire equipment, the expansion of the BFP’s manpower, and the provision of specialized training for firefighters, among others.
The BFP shall also be mandated to conduct monthly fire prevention campaigns and information drives in every local government unit.
“Hindi lamang po ang pag-modernize ng ating equipment ang makatutulong sa paglaban sa mga sunog. Mahalaga rin dito ang fire safety education. ‘Yung atin dito, kung papaano i-prevent at maturuan ang mga kababayan natin kung papaano ba maiiwasan ang mga sunog,” Go pointed out.
Sharing his experience going around the country to aid victims of fires, Go explained that fires emanate from small, crowded communities, giving rise to the need to educate residents in these mostly impoverished communities on how to avoid fires.
“‘Yung mga maliliit na bahay, bantayan at turuan rin natin para maiwasan ang ganitong insidente. Kadalasan dito sa mga maliliit talaga at mga liblib na lugar nagkakasunog,” he said.
“Kahit anumang problema ang inyong hinaharap—sunog, lindol, baha, pagputok ng bulkan o kahit anong klaseng krisis—handa kaming tumulong at magserbisyo sa inyo sa abot ng aming makakaya. Huwag kayo mawawalan ng pag-asa dahil hindi kayo pababayaan ng gobyerno na palaging nagmamalasakit sa inyo,” Go reiterated.
Meanwhile, the Senator has also expressed his admiration for firefighters who put their lives at risk to respond to save lives during fires and natural calamities.
“Bilib po ako sa ating mga bumbero dahil kahit hindi sunog, kasama sila sa mga unang sumusuong sa panganib at rumeresponde tuwing may sakuna at kalamidad. Maituturing po natin sila na first responders dahil parte sila ng ating emergency response,” said Go.
He said that providing them with modern equipment would capacitate them further in saving lives and protecting themselves while in the line of duty.
“Kahit mayroong pandemya, patuloy pa rin namang nangyayari ang mga sunog at iba pang aksidente o sakuna. Kaya nga po habang binabalangkas pa natin ang batas na ito, isinulong ko na po last year ang additional budget na 1.7 billion pesos para sa BFP para sa firefighting and rescue equipment ng BFP para sa taong ito,” he pointed out.
Among the provisions in the law is establishing specialized fire protection services in every region and city which includes a Security and Protection Unit (SPU). The SPU shall be provided with appropriate equipment to protect firefighters during fire suppression, containment of HAZMAT and CBRNE materials, fire investigation, and in the performance of all other acts pertinent to their mandate.
Go earlier cited the concerns of local governments and the BFP that firefighters often face threats on the ground especially during volatile environments when they respond to fire incidents. Hence, the provision aims to create the SPU so that firefighters can protect themselves from such threats.
“Security has been a serious concern of the BFP on the ground especially in volatile environments. They can only effectively suppress fires and save lives if peace and order is in place and they are also protected from unruly elements,” Go explained.
“That is why it would be best if they have their own Security and Protection Unit. Aside from capacitating our firefighters, we are also promoting their safety and welfare,” Go added.
Moreover, Go stated that firefighters are capable of handling such situations given their training so a special unit to ensure their safety and protection is an essential part of enhancing the capabilities of the BFP.
“Iyong ibang mga BFP officers ay PNPA graduates naman sila. May alam sila kung paano ma-ensure ang peace and order. Para ito sa proteksyon ng kanilang mga kahanay. Para ito sa proteksyon ng ating BFP personnel na sumusuong sa emergency situations,” Go said.