COA Assails Delay in Purchase of Firefighting Equipment

Manila Bulletin, September 30, 2015 | Go to article overview

COA Assails Delay in Purchase of Firefighting Equipment


The Commission on Audit (COA), in its audit report, said the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is causing delays in the procurement of P3.8 billion worth of fire trucks, modern firefighting equipment, and facilities.

In the recently released 2014 annual audit report for the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), COA noted that delays were observed in the purchase of the much-needed equipment despite the fact that shortage of protective firefighting equipment and gears "has been hounding the BFP for years."

Reacting to the COA report, the BFP said it has not been remiss in following up the purchase requests with the DILG and the Procurement Services of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), whose procurement policies have contributed to the delay.

The DILG, however, could not be reached for comment.

COA bewailed the bureaucratic red tape as it stressed that the construction of new fire stations and purchases of new fire trucks and firefighting equipment were supposed to be started as early as January, 2012.

The DILG allegedly sat on the bidding process for two and a half years.

"The lengthy procurement process resulted in the non-procurement of the 244 units 1,000 gallons capacity and 225 units 500 gallons capacity fire trucks; self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and PPE protective gears and the construction/renovation of 516 fire stations," COA said.

DEPRIVED OF PROTECTION

The long delay in procurement, auditors stressed, had deprived the "firefighters of the shield and armor to be used during fire suppressions and a well-equipped fire station."

"The BFP has been exerting effort in the procurement of firefighting gears and equipment and the construction of fire stations nationwide. Like in previous years, the bureau was not able to procure these much needed equipment due to the intervention of DILG in the procurement process," COA noted.

Auditors warned that DILG's interference in the bidding process was a direct violation of Section 11 of Republic Act 9184 or the government procurement law which authorizes the BFP, being the procurement entity, to constitute its own Bids and Awards Committee to handle its own procurement.

Records of the BFP showed that it has a total P3,861,102,675 for its modernization plan which was broken down as follows:

- P2.59 billion was earmarked by the national government for 244 units of firetrucks with one thousand-gallon capacity and 225 units with five hundred-gallon capacity;

- P1.01 billion for the construction of 516 fire stations;

- P194.48 million for new self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and other protective gear; and

- P65.87 million for additional vehicles and firefighting equipment. …

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