Around 400 municipalities nationwide still do not have their own firetrucks to immediately respond during fire emergencies, according to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
DILG Officer-in-Charge Catalino S. Cuy feels sorry that some of these towns could have been the recipients of the 24 new Rosenbauer fire trucks that remain stuck in the Port of Batangas since April this year.
The said 24 units are part of the second batch of Rosenbauer fire trucks from Austria which are now the subject of a pending petition before the Supreme Court, questioning the firetrucks deal.
With the said firetrucks, these towns should now have been in a much better position to provide timely and efficient fire services to their constituents,” said Cuy.
He, however, explained that the Department is in active consultation with the Office of the Solicitor General which has advised the DILG to wait until the issue is resolved by the Court before proceeding with the firetrucks distribution.
The fire trucks are really of superior quality but we could not just push through with the distribution right away because of the current situation,” he noted.
He said that the deal with Austrian government was entered into by the Department with clearance from the Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Justice (DOJ), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).
The Department is still requesting for a black-and-white document from the concerned agencies and the Rosenbauer representative to shed light on whether the firetruck deal is indeed a government -to -government contract.
In 2013, the DILG acquired the initial batch of fire trucks from the Austrian government which had been distributed and used by the recipient LGUs.
Cuy said that once distributed, the second batch of fire trucks could greatly help the LGUs, especially in urban areas, to respond faster to fire and other emergencies.
There are LGUs which are still using 30-year old fire trucks that really need to be replaced very soon,” he said.
He could only express hope that the Supreme Court petition would be resolved at the soonest possible time so that the intended fire trucks will reach their intended users.
BFP’s active procurement of new fire trucks is part of their modernization program as mandated by the Fire Code of the Philippines.
“Continuous ang bidding para sa mga fire trucks so that all LGUs will be covered. We really need these, including aerial ladders, for urban LGUs with high rise buildings,” Cuy said. (FRED SALCEDO)