MANILA, Philippines - A transformation in attitude and mentality of Filipinos is changing society, President Benigno Aquino said at the Bureau of Fire Protection's (BFP) 121st anniversary celebration held Tuesday afternoon at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
"Ngayon, kapag nakarinig ka ng wang-wang, 'di ba't kusa ka nang tatabi dahil alam mong tunay na may nakatayang buhay? Ngayon, hudyat na ito na may isang lingkod-bayang buong-loob na lulusob sa panganib, para mailigtas ang kanyang kapwa sa kapahamakan. Ngayon, senyales na ito sa isinasabuhay na serbisyo-publiko; tanda na ito na may Pilipinong kumakalinga sa kapwa Pilipino," he said.
He delivered his speech without the usual tirades.
"Baka po may ilan sa inyong nag-aabang kung may ibabanat tayong patutsada; uunahan ko na po kayo. Kilala niyo na ako. Hindi ko po ugaling mambola," he said, which drew laughter from the crowd.
The President said some erring government officials have been either charged or suspended for committing acts unfavorable to the interest of the people.
This, according to Aquino, is a sign that reforms are being undertaken and cracks in the bureaucracy are being addressed.
While acknowledging the efforts of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Aquino also underscored the achievements of the late Secretary Jesse Robredo who laid down the fundamentals of reliving the nobility of public service in the bureau.
"Sino ba ang mag-aakalang makakakuha siya (Robredo) ng Rosenbauer -- ang itinuturing na Mercedes Benz ng mga fire trucks- sa presyong abot-kaya?" said Aquino.
The President said the bureau is now reaping the fruits of labor of the late secretary with the scheduled arrival of firetrucks acquired through a loan agreeent with UniCredit Bank of Austria.
These include 76 Austrian Rosenbauer 1,000-gallon water pumper fire trucks.
Twelve are expected tobe ready for duty by Decemeber of this year, while the remaining units will be deployed to various stations by 2013.
Four fire trucks were also given by the Korean Federation of Fire Associations (KFFA), for which the President expressed gratitude to Mr. Kim Jong Kee and the KFFA for their support in government's efforts to build a safer community.
To show gratitude to the country's firefighters, the President announced that by August 2013, more than 1,800 housing units will be distributed to firemen.
The housing units will be paid for by beneficiaries for only P200 monthly amortization.
Before the yearend, government is also expected to complete the acquisition of additional coats, trousers, boots and helmets for firefighters.
Aquino challenged firefighters to continue the Robredo's legacy.
"Nag-iwan na ng bakas ang kanyang mga tsinelas. Tanda ito sa layo na ng ating narating, at sa layo pa ng ating lalakbayin," he said.