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Baka mag-bid uli Kolonwel: DILG says 400 towns in need of firetrucks, eyes Austrian firetrucks

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Some 400 towns nationwide still do not have their own firetrucks to immediately respond during fire emergencies, according to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

DILG Officer-in-Charge Catalino Cuy made announcement amid the raging controversy over a Commission on Audit report which accused Kolonwel Trading and China-based Hubei Jiangan Special Automobile Co. of selling defective firetrucks worth P2.57 billion, the single biggest purchase made by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).

Cuy said he was looking to speed up the release of 24 new Rosenbauer firetrucks that remain stuck in the Port of Batangas since April this year.

The 24 units are part of the second batch of Rosenbauer firetrucks from Austria which are now the subject of a pending petition before the Supreme Court (SC) questioning the legality of the firetrucks deal.

“With the said firetrucks, these towns should now have been in a much better position to provide timely and efficient fire services to their constituents,” Cuy said.

COA said that while the Austrian firetrucks were four times more expensive than Kolonwel’s firetrucks, their vehicles have far better quality than the Chinese firetrucks a big chunk of which had conked out less than two years after purchase.

“The firetrucks are really of superior quality but we could not just push through with the distribution right away because of the current situation,” Cuy said. The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has advised the DILG to wait until the issue is resolved by the SC before proceeding with the firetrucks distribution.

Cuy pointed out that once distributed, the second batch of firetrucks could greatly help the LGUs, especially in urban areas, to respond faster to fire and other emergencies.

“There are LGUs which are still using 30-year old firetrucks that really need to be replaced very soon,” he said. (PTR/PNA)