The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has directed the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to strictly enforce the provisions of the Fire Code of the Philippines even in Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA)-owned or administered economic zones.
The DILG made the directive after the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a four-page legal opinion penned by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre relative to the overlapping of authority and functions between the BFP and PEZA in the enforcement and implementation of Republic Act 9514 or the Revised Fire Code inside PEZA-registered economic zones.
In the said legal opinion, the DOJ opined that the Fire Code and the DILG Act of 1990 clearly state that it is the BFP which has the sole power and authority to enforce the country's fire laws nationwide, including in PEZA-owned or administered ecozones.
Such authority includes conducting fire safety inspection on enterprises or establishments duly registered with PEZA or those within the zones and issuing Fire Safety Inspection Certificate (FSIC).
With this development, the DILG ordered all BFP regional directors, provincial and city directors, bureaus, and field officers to buckle down to work and ensure the implementation of the Fire Code in ecozones.
The BFP, unless restrained by a timely court order, should now strictly enforce R.A. 9514 even on PEZA - owned or -administered economic zones where local government units (LGUs), together with law enforcement agencies may be called up by the fire bureau to ensure successful and effective enforcement of this mandate, said DILG officer-in-charge Catalino S. Cuy in his directive to the BFP officials.
Records from BFP-NCR show that there are 661 PEZA establishments in Metro Manila as of Aug. 11, 2017.
The DOJ's opinion was released despite PEZA's resolve to seek reconsideration of the opinion or pursue legal remedies with the courts of law.
The issue on the authority and functions of PEZA and BFP in the implementation of the Fire Code inside ecozones came up again after the June 2017 Resorts World Manila attack in Pasay City where more than 30 persons died of suffocation caused by fire.
The said issue also arose when a major fire incident in Gen. Trias town in Cavite Economic Zone last February 1, 2017 razed a Japanese �owned House Technologies Industries, (HTI), Inc., PTE, where 126 people were injured and brought a total damage of P15 billion.
Source: Department of the Interior and Local Government