Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero called on concerned local government officials to conduct regular inspections of dormitories in Metro Manila, particularly in the University Belt and along Taft Avenue to see if they meet safety and sanitation standards.
"Thousands of students leave the provinces every year to study in Manila and most of them stay temporarily in dormitories. We must ensure that these structures are built properly so that fire risks are minimized, especially now that classes are about to resume," he said.
Escudero co-authored Senate Bill 2553, which updates the 30-year-old Fire Code of the Philippines, to make the country's fire prevention measures more effective.
The bill requires the accreditation and training of fire volunteers nationwide and provides stiffer penalties against erring personnel of the Bureau of Fire Protection who fail to perform their duties in terms of preventing damages to properties or protecting the lives of people during fires.
It also imposes stricter penalties against building owners who do not comply with the Fire Code.
"Fire disaster-preparedness should be instilled by the authorities in the minds of students, particularly those living in dormitories, since many of them are built close to each other."
He expressed hope that SB 2553 will make fire officials more accountable for their action or inaction, especially when it comes to the enforcement of fire laws, since there are administrative sanctions as well as criminal liabilities for acts of omission and negligence should they fail to do their duty.