P17M fire prevention fund unutilized in fire-ridden Manila – COA

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by Allan Yves Briones

Despite being a city plagued yearly with innumerably fire incidents – 4,698 last year alone – Manila’s local government failed to utilize P17.15 million which could affect the local fire stations’ “efficient and effective delivery of services in times of need.

In the Commission on Audit’s (COA) annual audit report, state auditors showed that of the total fire prevention budget of P55.85 million, only 61% was utilized by the city in procuring “fire trucks, service and rescue vehicles communication equipment, rescue and firefighting equipment” intended for 14 sub-fire stations in Manila.

“P17,149,230.69 million remained idle and was not appropriated for the procurement of additional fire trucks and equipment…which is still very much needed by the fire stations in order to aide or augment its ageing fire fighting vehicles,” said the District Fire Marshal according to the report.

Under Section 13 of RA No. 9514 also known as the Revised Fire Code of the Philippines, the fund shall be appropriated for the “exclusive use of the operation and maintenance of local fire stations”, including its construction and repair.

“The continued non-appropriation and utilization of the remaining balance of the fund for its intended purpose, as provided in the Fire Code, deprived the Bureau of Fire Protection of being fully equipped with essential fire fighting vehicles and equipment necessary for the efficient and effective delivery of quality services to the public in times of calamity,” COA said.

The state auditing agency recommended that the city government coordinate with the District Fire Marshal for the “immediate appropriation” of the remaining P17 million balance to optimize local fire stations’ capabilities in responding to disaster/calamities.

Just last week, three fires hit Malate in Manila, leaving 14 families homeless and destroying P600,000 worth of property.