Saturday, March 8, 2014
MANILA-To thank them for their services, government should waive vehicle registration fees of volunteer-owned fire trucks and place the brave men manning them under PhilHealth insurance.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said at present, no incentives, “except perhaps for the token plaque of appreciation,” are given to volunteer firemen who put their lives on the line to save lives and property.
Recto made the proposal as the nation marks Fire Prevention Month with a government grappling with the lack of fire trucks to respond to one distress call every 48 minutes.
Last year, fires cost P5.5 billion in damages to property.
Recto said the damage would have been bigger if not for volunteer fire trucks which in Metro Manila and in other big cities today outnumber the fleet operated by the Bureau of Fire Protection.
Because the law exempts no private motor vehicle from registration fees, Recto suggested that any of the cash-rich government corporations, like Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, foot the bill instead.
“It will be a good CSR project of Pagcor. Pagcor supporting volunteer firetrucks – that’s a winning combination,” Recto said.
“The same applies to PhilHealth if it automatically enrolls members of volunteer firefighting brigades,” Recto added.
Recto said if government will be spending P567billion in subsidies and financial aid to individuals and government corporations this year, then there is no reason why it cannot grant the same to volunteer fire brigades.
“Kahit yung libreng LTO registration na lang, which will not exceed P20,000 per vehicle,baka yun na ang pwedeng equity ng gobyerno sa serbisyo ng mga volunteer firemen,” the senator said.
In addition to waiving LTO fees for fire trucks and providing health insurance to volunteer firemen, Recto said government should study the possibility of giving life insurance to volunteers.
“Magkano lang ba ang premium ng life insurance? It is small compared to the average P388,000 in annual total PS (personal services) cost per BFP employee,” he said.
In 2012, the government reported that 645 towns and cities do not have fire stations, while 666 others make do with only old and dilapidated fire trucks.
To reverse years of neglect, President Aquino earlier this month approved the release of P3.4 billion for the purchase of 300 fire trucks and the construction of 300 fire stations.
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