COA raises alarm over BFP's failed modernization program
MANILA, Philippines – The modernization program of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) is flailing, with auditors saying that the agency "failed" to upgrade its capacities despite the program already being 8 years on.
The modernization program was launched in 2010, and it was released with a total of P13.17-billion budget from 2011 to 2017.
The Commission on Audit (COA) was compelled to do a performance audit because despite the program, the country still registered 96,447 fire incidents from 2011 to 2017 which resulted in 1,924 deaths, 5,750 injuries, and P31.06 billion in property damage.
"[It] thereby raise issues as to the effectiveness of the program," the COA said in its special audit released on Wednesday, January 23.
"The BFP is not on track in accomplishing the Modernization Program's goals and objectives within its timelines," the COA said.
For example, as of June 30, 2018, the BFP only completed 263 out of its target 945 fire stations. This equates to 308 municipalities without a fire station.
What's worse, the COA found that some contractors have abandoned 11 out of the 44 ongoing construction of fire stations.
The COA said the P13.7-billion budget is only 22% of the total funding requirement which is P60.29 billion.
The BFP has had to turn to the Official Development Assistance to fund some of their fire stations, while other needs were outsourced.
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Because they do not have enough funding, the BFP eventually failed in utilizing the money that it has that in the end, it had to forfeit P1.91 billion to the national treasury.
As for fire trucks, the BFP procured only 621 trucks out of the target 1,057.
As of 2016, the COA found that 176 out of the 469 fire trucks delivered in 2015 already had defects.
The COA doubts that the BFP can fulfill its deliverables under the Modernization Program by 2020.
"Due to the inability of the BFP to upgrade its firefighting capabilities, the public and even the firefighters are left vulnerable to destructive fire without adequate safeguards from the envisioned modernization," auditors said.
The BFP insisted that fire incidents "remained below the threshold," while incidence of property damages "has been on a steady decline."
"Existing BFP data, however, do not show direct correlation between the Modernization Program and the trends. This is mainly due to lack of reports," state auditors said.
The COA also found that the BFP did not have a fully-functioning Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) "because no one was interested to become members of its BAC for fear of lawsuits from the losing bidders."
Outsourcing of some of its procurements resulted in delays that only 33% of a total P526.81 million procurements were delayed, while the rest remain undelivered for 4 years now.
The COA also found that the BFP does not track its progress. It also didn't have clear agreements with local governments. In the end, the COA found that 34% of barangays they visited have no organized fire brigades.
"The BFP needs to intensify its supervision and monitoring on construction of fire stations to ensure timely completion of projects in accordance with required specifications and prevent abandonment of projects by the contractors," auditors said. – Rappler.com