Estrada: Inter-agency memo allows LGUs to issue business permits pending fire inspection
MANILA Mayor Joseph Estrada is asking why the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) seemed to be “oblivious” of its own memorandum allowing local government units (LGUs) to issue provisional business permits pending an inspection on the establishments by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).
This comes a week after President Aquino warned the local government of Valenzuela that its officials could be held liable for giving Kentex Manufacturing Inc. a business permit despite its non-compliance with fire safety standards, which is a violation of the Revised Fire Code of the Philippines.
“It has been the practice of LGUs all over the country to issue provisional permits to ensure that the operation of business establishments will not be hampered,” Estrada said in a statement released on Saturday.
He added that it has always been a legal practice based on the memorandum circulars issued by the Department of Trade and Industry, DILG and BFP.
Estrada was referring to joint DILG-DTI Memorandum Circular No. 1, series of 2010, dated Aug. 26, 2010; the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo’s DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2011-05, dated Jan. 4, 2011; and a Sept. 24, 2012 BFP memorandum.
Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian earlier explained that it was based on these directives that the city enacted an ordinance establishing the 3-S (Simple, Speed and Service Excellence in Public Service) Program in 2012. Under Robredo’s memorandum circular, the “city or municipal fire marshal shall issue a written report notifying the local chief executive wherein all the names of non-compliant establishments are listed, and expressly stating therein a recommendation not to issue a permit or revoke existing ones.”
Gatchalian said last week that Kentex’s business permit wasn’t revoked because the BFP never reported back. On May 13, a seven-hour fire at the slippers factory in Barangay Ugong in Valenzuela claimed the lives of 72 workers. It was later found out that the factory didn’t have automatic fire sprinklers, fire detection alarm systems, and protected fire escape.
Estrada said the memorandum circulars were issued then because the business sector complained of BFP’s slow inspection. He stressed that it’s BFP’s responsibility to ensure establishments follow fire safety codes by conducting inspections and reporting to the concerned local government those they found to have violations and recommend the revocation of the business permits.
He added that it would be ironic if LGUs, such as Valenzuela, would be penalized for following the memorandum circulars authorizing them to issue provisional business permits pending the release of the local fire marshal’s fire safety inspection certificate (FSIC).
“What will we do? Will we just wait for this FSIC to be released? What will happen to our economy What will happen to the businesses? What will happen to the local economy and local employees?” Estrada asked.
He added that it would be up to the DILG “to assert the efficacy of its Memo Circular No. 2011-05 since failure to do so will severely damage the credibility of the department. And what will happen now to the other LGUs, which has followed the DILG-BFP memo circulars?”
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