By Atty. Ceferino A. Baquilod
AS I was writing this article, I could not help but feel sad about what just happened in Borongan – another fire. This time, in Songco, along the national road right across the Shell gas station. This conflagration gutted down a number of commercial establishments and residential buildings. No reported casualties, thanks God. This happened after another one razed a couple of houses and stores not too far away, in downtown Borongan last October or just a couple months ago. Not too long ago too, we had another fire in Sabang, Borongan.
Needless to say, these fires are becoming too frequent and too alarming. it behooves upon the Bureau of Fire Protection to beef up its efforts in fire prevention, public education and awareness. BFP should reassess its readiness and capability for a quicker and more effective response. There probably is need for more fire trucks, considering that Borongan is now a city and more populated. Also we need smaller fire trucks for barangays like Tabok, where roads are narrow, small and hard to navigate. More extensive firemen training programs, fire drills participated in by staff and volunteers, including appropriate barangay officials and police, should be done regularly.
According to accounts posted on FB by people who were at the scene, there were several lapses and inadequacies on the part of the firemen and fire officials. Their office was not manned at the time and firemen could not be found. Firemen eventually showed up late, not in proper attire but in slippers and shorts and without appropriate equipment and tools. It was observed that most of them appeared ill-prepared. One of the 2 fire trucks turned out to be empty, without water. Other fire trucks from neighboring towns came but of course belatedly since they had to travel distances.
FIRE HYDRANTS need to be installed in strategic places in Borongan. This is long overdue. Currently in Borongan, fire trucks still need to drive some distance to refill their tanks while properties are ablaze. It cannot be over-emphasized that every second counts in conflagrations. Also, there should be a quicker way to report fires and other emergencies. Perhaps a 911 or similar quick-response communication system available 24-7, needs to be set up.
New Year, New Challenges
What’s in store for you in the Year of the Dog? If you believe in zodiac signs, you probably have done your research already or heard on radio or tv what 2018 has for you. If you are a non-believer like me, you may just have decided to ignore the clairvoyant’s prognostications and be practical about things by preparing to face the challenges of the new year.
The economic forecast for our country in 2018 is dim. As reported recently in Bloomberg.com, our current trade deficit is considered the widest since 1980. On top of this, our currency, the Philippine peso, had been among the worst performers in Asia in the past 12 months. Prices of commodities and services are expected to shoot up because of oil price increases and imposition of excise taxes, as a result of the TRAIN tax reform law.
The change to Federalism might happen sooner than later. The plan to cancel the upcoming elections and abolition of the Senate have been hotly talked about lately. The Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth is also feared by many that it will soon be handed back to the late dictator’s heirs. Of course, everything is up in the air as spokespersons of the administration are quick to label them as fake news.
It goes without saying that we all need to brace ourselves for whatever challenges the new year may bring in. There is no still no substitute for a well thought of preparation. Having a new year’s resolution to be better is always a good start. But it is pure rhetoric if not put into action. Happy New Year.