Senate OKs bill seeking BFP modernization

Robie de Guzman   •   March 9, 2021   •   752

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate has approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to strengthen the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) by providing modern firefighting tools and life-saving equipment, additional personnel, and relevant training of personnel.

Voting 23-0, the Senate passed on Monday Senate Bill No. (SBN) 1832 or the BFP Modernization Act, which aims to help the BFP pursue its mandate of promoting public safety by saving lives and protecting property in times of emergencies.

Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, who chairs of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs and sponsor of the measure, said that the proposed measure will ensure that the BFP will be well-quipped and sufficiently manned to suppress fire incidents and respond to calamities.

“With the help of SBN 1832, we can ensure that we will have enough fire officers, fire trucks, personal protective equipment and other equipment needed to suppress deadly fires. Also, it will allow BFP to effectively perform their duty as first responders during accidents and other emergencies,” Dela Rosa said in a statement.

The bill expanded BFP’s functions to include prevention and suppression of fire in all buildings, houses, and other structures located inside economic zones, agro-industrial economic zones, free ports, and special economic zones, Information Technology (IT) parks/centers, tourism economic zones, and other similar entities.

Added to the agency’s functions is its duty to respond to natural and man-made disasters and assist in rescue and emergency medical services provided that the BFP would coordinate and cooperate with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and Local Government Units.

The modernization program shall consist of components, such as fire protection service, force restructuring and organizational development, capability, material, and technology development, specialized services development, and human resource development.

“Again, with the help of Congress, our dream to have firetrucks and fire stations in every municipality could be achieved; hopefully, we can see firefighters with protective equipment while suppressing deadly fires; no more stories of fatalities due to lack of ambulances during accidents and emergencies,” Dela Rosa said.

Dela Rosa assured the public that the higher chamber will appropriate proper funding for the modernization of the BFP.

“The passage of this bill is the first step towards the modernization of the BFP. Rest assured that we will see to it that this law will be implemented properly,” he said.

“We will also ensure that our annual national budget will include sufficient funds for the programmed projects of the BFP for their modernization program,” he added.

Senate on total closure from January 10 to 16 – Sotto

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2022

MANILA, Philippines ­– The Senate will be closed for a week amid rising COVID-19 infections among its employees, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Friday.

Citing a report from the Senate Medical Team, Sotto said there are now 46 active COVID positive cases in the upper chamber while 175 employees are under quarantine due to exposure and manifestation of symptoms.

Sotto said these employees are awaiting the result of their COVID-19 swab test.

He also mentioned that five staff of the Medical Bureau are under quarantine, which depleted their workforce and find it hard to attend to the needs of the infected employees.

“Medical has sent a Memo recommending 7 days of total closure of the Senate from January 10 (Monday) to  January 16 (Sunday),” he told reporters.

“They will conduct thorough disinfection and this will lessen contact among employees to prevent or slow down virus transmission,” he added.

Sotto said total closure means no one will be allowed to enter the Senate premises except for those involved in the disinfection process to be conducted on January 8 and January 15.

The House of Representatives earlier announced it has extended the lockdown in its offices until January 16, also due to increasing COVID-19 cases.

 

DILG ensures peace, order in typhoon-stricken areas

Maris Federez   •   December 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has assured President Rodrigo Duterte and the whole nation that peace and order are maintained in areas that were hit by Typhoon Odette.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año made the assurance in his report to the President during the Talk to the Nation program aired Tuesday night.

Año said 14,203 personnel from the Philippine National Police (PNP) were initially deployed for Typhoon Odette. This was aside from other police personnel sent by police regional offices to the different regions severely battered by the typhoon.

Police Regional Office (PRO)–5 personnel were sent to augment force in Region 8; while PRO-4A police were added to the force in Region 6.

PRO-1, 2, 3, and CAR police were sent to Region 7, and PRO 9, 10, 11, 12, and BARMM were sent to Caraga.

“Ito po ay para siguraduhin na ang ating peace and order ay mini-maintain. Tutulong sila sa rescue and recovery operations and also sa relief and rehabilitation effort,” Año said.

The Bureau of Fire Protection, meanwhile, has dedicated 10,674 personnel and sent fire trucks to the regions that were badly hit by Odette.

Victims Information Centers (VICs) were installed in fire stations where Odette families and relatives of Odette victims can go and ask about their loved ones on their condition and whereabouts.

“Pumunta lamang po sa pinakamalapit na fire station. Ibigay po ang mga detalye. Hahanapin po natin ‘yan kung saan po silang area at mag-fe-feedback din po ang ating Bureau of Fire Protection kung ano po ang nangyari sa inyong relatives,” Año said.

With their own DILG personnel also affected by Typhoon Odette, additional DILG field officers were deployed in the different regions and will serve as a bridge between national government agencies and local government agencies.

They are also in charge in supervising and managing the dead and the missing. —/mbmf

Defense chief Lorenzana tests positive for COVID-19 anew

Robie de Guzman   •   November 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed on Wednesday that he has again contracted COVID-19.

In a message to reporters, Lorenzana said he was informed of his test result earlier in the day but he has not manifested any symptoms.

He said he is fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

“This morning I got the result of my swab test yesterday afternoon after the Senate hearing. I am asymptomatic,” he said.

“Yes, I am fully vaxxed. I’ll observe myself for several days after that I’ll have another swab,” he added.

The Defense chief first tested positive for COVID-19 in April and recovered.

Lorenzana took a swab test after undergoing screening for COVID-19 on Tuesday when he physically attended a Senate hearing for his department’s budget for 2022.

With this development, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said they might suspend the budget deliberations on Thursday to give way for the testing of exposed Senate staff.

Lorenzana had interactions with several senators during the session. Among those who was exposed to him were Senators Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa and Francis Tolentino.

Senators and staff who had contact with Lorenzana have been asked to undergo quarantine and get tested after five days.

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