Duterte wants firemen armed so they can help fight Reds, crime
President Duterte wants an expanded mandate for firemen to include their participation in the government’s anti-insurgency operations.
He said this before an audience of firefighters in a speech Thursday night marking the 28th anniversary of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).
“You know, you have to help in the law and order. You are not limited to just fire,” Mr. Duterte told his audience at the Philippine International Convention Center. “You have to go around and help the policemen and the military. You can understand each other with just a few gestures.”
Mr. Duterte also referred to the recent spate of killings in Negros Oriental province. “I talk about Negros, the killing there has not stopped. It has gone unabated, unbridled, unstoppable and almost all of the barangay captains are being killed,” he said.
He added: “I am warning the New People’s Army. This cannot go on. So I will have firearms issued to you firemen. After dealing with water, go hunt for people. You help in the maintenance of peace and order.”
Mr. Duterte also assured the firefighters that “I will purchase a lot of trucks for you. And I will tell the Commission on Audit that I will not buy the lowest bid. I don’t care if we end up in court. That lowest bid firetruck will only last two trips.”
“Of course, the training. Your investigatory skills, the first to reach the … It’s a result of a crime, the crime scene would be much easier.”
“So some of you might have to go to attend classes on the gathering of evidence,” he added.
The mandate of the BFP, an agency of the interior department, is duly covered in Republic Act No. 9514, or the Fire Code of the Philippines, as posted in the Official Gazette website.
Section 5 of the law states in part that “fire practitioners … shall undergo mandatory continuous professional education and competency evaluation of their expertise, knowledge and skills in the area of fire science, engineering and technology….”
The law also mandates “the police, other law enforcement agencies and local government assistance to render necessary assistance in the enforcement of this Code.”
Government data show that 1,489 municipalities have already modernized their firefighting capabilities, while only 305 municipalities need upgrades to their equipment.
Aside from preventing and suppressing destructive fires, the BFP is also a first responder in disasters.
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