Sunday, September 25, 2011
Estrada slams Robredo over imported fire trucks probe
MANILA, September 25, 2011-Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada slammed the looming fire trucks controversy even as he chided Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo over what he described as his obvious lack of vision to prepare the country during emergency situations especially during fires and natural calamities.
He also took Robredo to task for the continued delay in the purchase of reliable fire trucks which he said are the local government units’ frontline of defense during critical times.
Estrada noted that in critical and emergency situations, fire trucks are our first line of defense and are called to respond and to provide assistance to those who are in need.
“So what’s taking him (Robredo) too long in purchasing fire trucks that are supposed to be distributed to our LGUs?” he asked, saying that the country lacks around 1,600 units of fire trucks to be distributed to LGUs nationwide for them to sufficiently and to efficiently respond during emergency situations records showed.
Estrada likewise questioned Robredo’s preference for imported, more expensive and possibly reconditioned fire trucks over locally manufactured ones.
He stressed that Robredo should explain why he is pushing hard to enter into deal that would pay for a more expensive imported fire trucks over locally manufactured units, adding that the importation was actually already rejected by the Arroyo administration for being erroneous, but the deal was suspiciously revived with the takeover of the Aquino administration.
Estrada was referring to the Rosenbauer fire trucks to be imported from Austria which based on records would cost more than P20 million each as compared to Philippine-made fire trucks worth only P9 million each.
The present deal will import 76 fire trucks for P1.3 billion but the actual plan is for BFP to purchase more than 1,000 units, after which every municipality will receive one fire truck each.
“The Austrian government will lend the money to buy the fire trucks, “in as much as it was a loan, therefore it would earn interests,” Estrada noted.
“Although the acquisition cost for each truck is listed at P17.5 million which is already very expensive when compared to local trucks, it would balloon to P20 million each excluding taxes and duties that will amount to around P185 million,” Estrada pointed out.
The BFP has been patronizing the tropicalized Filipino-made fire trucks that were specifically designed to suit the needs, terrain and fire conditions in the Philippines for many years.
Estrada also slammed Robredo for abandoning the Filipino First policy that seeks to protect the interest of local manufacturers and inventors which is specifically outlined in the Constitution.
“If the Rosenbauer deal pushes through, I believe that it would severely dislocate hundreds if not thousands of Filipino workers in the fire truck manufacturing industry, which is against the job generation efforts of the government,” the senator added.
The BFP has scheduled a public bidding for the supply of fire trucks on Sept. 30 but the specifications are clearly and specifically designed for imported fire trucks which many observers see as in preparation for the acquisition of the Austrian fire trucks thus depriving locally made fire trucks from participation.
Estrada averred that certainly he don’t see the logic behind Robredo’s insistence to purchase expensive and imported fire trucks when we can buy them at a much lower price from local manufacturers. (Jason de Asis)
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