Año says arming firefighters is ''timely and practical''
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Tuesday said arming the 29,286 firefighters of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) this year is “timely and practical”.
Año said this is in line with the government's drive against criminality, illegal drugs, terrorism, and violent extremism.
"Maintaining law and order is not an easy task. Despite the decreasing crime rate in the country, having the BFP's firefighters in our peace and order campaign is a boost and welcome addition in ensuring a safe and secure country," he said.
Año said "having more hands fighting for the same cause would not hurt" as the government gears towards putting an end to violent extremism and illegal drugs and other forms of criminality.
He said the BFP, with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), is permitted by law to assist the Armed Forces of the Philippines in times of national emergency if ordered by the President under Republic Act 6975.
"The BFP also does law enforcement functions because they enforce the Fire Code so they already have some experience in this regard. The BFP can help ensure public safety, as a support to the PNP and AFP but of course, their primary responsibility is still preventing and suppressing fire and enforcement of the Fire Code," he added.
According to Año, firefighters will be armed with 9 mm pistols to strengthen the government's law enforcement campaign and also for self-defense purposes as fire victims, out of frustration, sometimes gang up on fire personnel during firefighting operations.
He said that the BFP has requested funds from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to finance the purchase of 29,286 9mm firearms for the use of each uniformed BFP personnel.
Año assured the public the firefighters would undergo marksmanship and gun safety training before the issuance of their firearms.
BFP Director Jose Segundo Embang welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to arm BFP uniformed personnel and saw it as an upgrade in terms of responsibilities and skills to cope with the demands of the times. Ella Dionisio/DMS