Belmonte wants Quezon City fire chief axed

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
Belmonte wants Quezon City fire chief axed
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte on August 2, 2023.
STAR / Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines — Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte has called for the relief of the local fire chief and another official following the blaze that killed 15 people in Barangay Tandang Sora last month.

In a statement yesterday, Belmonte also urged the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and undertake reforms at the Quezon City Fire District (QCFD).

She sought the relief of QCFD marshal Senior Supt. Aristotle Bañaga and Chief Insp. Dominic Salvacion, who heads the QCFD branch undertaking fire inspections in the city.

Belmonte made the call following the results of the probe conducted by the local government and the city council, which found lapses on the part of the QCFD, including lax inspection and backlog in the inspection of businesses.

“The BFP should look into how the QCFD fulfilled its mandate amid the tragic loss of lives and properties due to recent fires in the city. Were the QCFD leadership remiss in their duties? They should hold their personnel accountable if proven guilty of inefficiency,” she said.

Citing data from the BFP, the local government said 153 fires were recorded in Quezon City from January to August, compared to 219 for the entire 2022.

At least eight firefighters and 63 civilians have been injured in the city this year. In 2022, two firefighters and 60 civilians were injured in fires.

There were 24 fatalities from fires in the first eight months of 2023, compared to 30 last year. The number of affected families (2,380) so far this year is higher than in the entire 2022 (2,005).

“To protect the people of Quezon City, I am calling on the national leadership of the BFP to assign a new fire marshal for the QCFD and a new inspection head,” Belmonte said.

She also asked the BFP to be more transparent in its investigation of the Tandang Sora fire.

“The BFP has failed to reciprocate the city government’s efforts to exercise transparency. They resisted our calls to be apprised of the progress of their own probe, or to our requests for coordination,” Belmonte said.

“We are asking the BFP to cooperate fully with the city government as mandated by law, to ensure full transparency in these investigations. Our people demand more, and the victims and their families deserve nothing less,” she added.

Belmonte had ordered the creation of a special panel to look into the incident and file charges against those who should be held accountable.

She vowed that even local government personnel will be charged if they are found liable for the tragic fire.

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