The Senate has already approved the Bicameral Conference Committee Report in relation to the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Modernization Bill.
Fourteen senators favored the report, and four opposed, including Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senator Kiko Pangilinan, and Senator Nancy Binay.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III and Sen. Risa Hontiveros abstained.
During the plenary deliberation this Wednesday, Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, the proposal’s sponsor, said that the “best-reconciled version” was passed by the bicam.
“We included in the bill the specific number of BFP personnel for SPU (Special and Protection Unit) in order to limit the authority of the BFP on the issuance of firearms. With this amendment, the Senate panel thru Senator Hontiveros further amended the provision to ensure that those who will be appointed in the SPU will be well trained to handle firearms,” said Dela Rosa.
“As such, all SPU members shall be required to undergo neuropsychological examination before their appointment to the unit as well as periodic trainings,” he added.
He said the conversation had been long, especially on the arming of firefighters.
BFP modernization bill approved by the Senate
Based on the agreement, only SPU personnel will be armed to limit BFP personnel from holding firearms.
Each BFP station has an SPU that will include 14 personnel. In addition, there are two team leaders with the rank of Fire Inspector.
SPU members will be provided with handguns, body armor, and body cameras, and they will provide security to fellow firefighters.
The plot failed to pass Senate ratification in June after senators slammed the provision on arming firefighters because it was not in the Senate’s approval in the Third Reading.
According to Dela Rosa, the House contingent insisted to the Bicameral Conference Committee that the provision in this regard remain.
Meanwhile, the plenary session in the Senate has been suspended for two weeks due to Metro Manila’s enhanced community quarantine.
The final session of the Senate ended this Wednesday night, and the Senate will return to session on August 23.