Fighting fire with fire? Bato dela Rosa inserts provision to let firefighters have firearms

June 4, 2021 - 1:34 PM
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Plenary deliberation of the BFP Modernization Bill sponsored by Senate Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa as the Chairman of the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs. (Office of Sen. Bato dela Rosa/Released)

Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, one of the architects of the bloody drug war, wants firefighters to wield firearms.

The former chief of the national police force on Thursday sponsored the Bureau of Fire Protection Modernization Bill in the plenary for the Senate to be ratified. But the amendment to the proposal invited questions and raised concerns.

The amendment allows BFP personnel to carry short firearms during fire emergencies and disasters, provided that training will be undertaken with the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Philippine National Police.

According to Dela Rosa, the amendment was “borne out of request coming from Malacañang, from the president.”

President Rodrigo Duterte in his fourth State of Nation Address in July 2019 urged the Congress to pass a law mandating a modernization program for the BFP.

Dela Rosa also said that the chief executive wanted the BFP “to support the law enforcement operations” of the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The former PNP chief added that equipping the bureau with firearms is for their own protection.

“Maraming instances na po, na during fire incidents inaagaw ‘yung kanilang hose. Minsan meron pang mga nasaksak dahil gusto unahan ‘yung bahay nila,” Dela Rosa claimed.

“Our firemen don’t carry arms. They‘re not feared. If these firemen will be given arms, crazy people will be afraid to mess with these firemen,” he was quoted as saying in another report.

Some of Dela Rosa’s colleagues opposed the move, with Sen. Grace Poe saying that carrying firearms is not part of the BFP’s job.

Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, who used to head the police force, likewise said that the amendment is unnecessary as there is already a law that lets an individual apply for firearm ownership.

Dela Rosa’s reasoning similarly drew critics, especially in light of the recent killings involving uniformed personnel.

“Iba rin mag-isip itong si Bato. Trigger happy! So, kapag inagawan ng hose, barilin? Nuezca style ba? Just modernize their trucks and equipment, and give them security when they are on duty,” a Twitter user said, referencing the case of a former cop.

“So, may mang-aagaw ng hose. Tutukan ng baril? Brutal ng pag-iisip ampucha. Pulis ka nga,” another online user wrote.

“Taeng mentalidad ‘yan, utak pulis, este criminal,” a different Filipino responded to dela Rosa’s comments.

“So hawak baril muna bago hose.. ‘pag may napatay.. issue na kung nang-agaw ng baril or ng hose. Mas kinamamatay ng bumbero ‘yung mga nasunugan kesa sa sunog. #PulisAngTerorista,” another Twitter user said.

It was only this week when a police officer, Police Master Sergeant Hensie Zinampan, was arrested for killing a grandmother using his service weapon while off-duty and intoxicated.

The incident was recorded and cries of children could be heard after the gunshot.

Reports said he has already been slapped with criminal and administrative charges.

Another officer, Police Corporal Sherwin Rebot, was reported to have shot fellow cop Police Corporal Higinio Wayan last Sunday after an arm-wrestling bout.

Rebot is facing administrative and criminal charges for murder and illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Last year, then-Police Senior Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca was recorded shooting a mother and her son over an altercation about “boga.”

He was dismissed from the police force in January.