“…rather than give firefighters guns, it would be better if they are given better fire fighting equipment against forest and industrial fires.”
By JOHN AARON MARK MACARAEG
MANILA — Bayan Muna on Monday urged the national government to act quickly in responding to the consecutive fires in Benguet for fear it might reach to levels like the Amazon and Australia fires.
At least six forest fires were reported last week in different areas of Benguet, which according to authorities were caused by lack of rains and easterly wind. Fortunately, the fires occurred mostly in uninhabited areas.
In a statement, House Minority Deputy leader and Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate has asked the government to send more firetrucks to the affected areas as there were only three fire trucks from Tublay and La Trinidad that the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) use to put out the fires.
The first fire, which was also the biggest with over 150 hectares razed, started in Kabayan town in Benguet on February 11 to 15. Then another in Tublay Benguet on February 19, followed by two fires both in Baguio on February 20 and 21, and a grass fire in Sitio Cawat in Barangay Beckel, La Trinidad.
Just last Saturday, February 22, two more fires were reported in Benguet.
“We must help in preventing these fires and at the very least be ready with more firefighting equipment for firefighters before more forest lands, endemic plants species, animals and even people and their livelihood are affected and devastated,” Zarate said.
More equipment, not guns
Early this month, Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año pushed for firefighters to bear firearms to help maintain peace and order.
In a statement to the media, Año said that it was “timely and critical in the government’s drive against criminality, illegal drugs, terrorism, and violent extremism.”
The BFP already requested funds from the Department of and Management (DBM) to buy nearly 30,000 9mm pistols.