Press Release
March 2, 2016

Recto to gov't: Release P1B LGU share from fire fees, pay registration of volunteer firetrucks

To thank them for their services, government should waive vehicle registration fees of volunteer-owned firetrucks and place the brave men manning them under PhilHealth insurance, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto proposed today.

This, as Recto called on the national government to speed up the release of P1 billion it owes to local governments as the latter's share from Fire Code fees collected from 2010 to 2014.

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 fires destroying almost P6.8 billion worth of property annually, the average from 2010 to 2013.

The damage would have been greater if not for volunteer firetrucks which in Metro Manila and in other big cities today outnumber the fleet operated by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Recto said.

At the beginning of 2014, there were only 1,574 operational BFP firetrucks, leaving a shortage of 1,538 units, an official audit report revealed.

A third or 426 out of 1,489 towns also had no fire stations.

Recto said government can tap Fire Code fees collections in paying for the motor vehicle registration of volunteer-owned firetrucks and health insurance of volunteer firemen.

This year, Fire Code fees collections are expected to reach P1.36 billion, mostly from:

  • One-tenth of 1 percent of the verified estimated value of buildings to be erected but not exceeding P50,000

  • 1/100th of 1 percent of the assessed value of buildings upon payment of real estate tax, except on structures used as single family dwellings

  • 2 percent of gross sales of companies selling firefighting equipment or devices, including hazard detection and warning systems

Recto said "subsidies, grants and financial aid to individuals and groups" are allowed under the law.

A ten-wheeler truck pays about P8,000 in Road User's Tax annually, while the premium for PhilHealth coverage is about P2,400 annually per person.

"It is small compared to the average P388,000 in annual total personal services (PS) cost per BFP employee last year," he said.

In its audit report on the BFP for 2014, which is the latest, the Commission on Audit (COA) said the 20-percent share of local governments from fire inspection fees from 2010 to 2014 have not been released.

Under Republic Act 9514, or the Fire Code of the Philippines, 80 percent of all revenues collected by the BFP shall be used for its modernization, while 20 percent will be plowed back to the LGU where such was collected.

From 2010 to 2014, collections reached P4.75 billion, of P949 million should have been released to local governments, the COA said.

"This should be released soon to help augment the fire prevention capacity of the BFP," said Recto.

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