Press Release
March 5, 2007

Waive Registration Fee of Firetrucks
Owned By Volunteer Fire Brigades Recto

As the nation marks Fire Prevention Month, Sen. Ralph Recto has called on the government to waive the registration fees of all firetrucks owned by volunteer fire brigades, saying that these vehicles perform a duty that serves society.

Because under the law no motor vehicle owner is exempt from paying registration fees, Recto suggested that the cash-rich Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. foot the bill instead.

The Land Transportation Office will register all firetrucks and just bill PAGCOR for the registration and road users tax.

The lawmaker from Batangas pointed out that, indeed, waiving the said fee will cost the government but this might serve as a motivation for certain groups like the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Inc. (FCCCI) to purchase fire engines and maintain them.

These volunteer fire brigades perform a role that benefits not only the business sector but also poor communities that could not systematically control fires when they break out, he said.

Recto made the call at the end of his four-day campaign in Northern Mindanao where he touched base with farmers, agricultural workers and common folk.

The senator earlier proposed that the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) be given more budget to purchase modern fire engines, better firefighting gear and establish more fire stations nationwide.

Recto was surprised to know that each municipality only has close to one firetruck at 1,633, of which 134 need repair or are close to being junked.

He added that many municipalities have no firemen and depend on the help of firefighters from more urbanized areas whenever theres a blaze.

Recto added that the government lost billions in the 8,823 fires that struck in 2006 but stressed that damage to property will also reach billions if the equipment of BFP are not improved and modernized.

We have to invest more for the defense of lives and property. The millions we spend for fire trucks translate into billions worth of property saved. Of course, human lives are priceless and cannot be quantified, he said.

The legislator added that there should be a collective effort in responding to fires and that efforts to establish a burn unit in every public hospital to be funded by the Department of Health (DOH) and local government units (LGUs) should be supported.

Recto emphasized that only prosperous cities and towns can afford to buy state-of-the-art firetrucks and other firefighting gear.

It is hightime for the national government to seriously consider equipping each town with fire engines and the first thing to do is to increase the budget of the BFP for this, he said.

Public funds should benefit the public, he said, and one way of ensuring this is to embark on an upgrading program for BFP.

BFP is under the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), that also controls the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

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