Fire razes central post office; National IDs among destroyed

Ghio Ong - The Philippine Star
Fire razes central post office; National IDs among destroyed
Fire engulfs the central postal office building in Lawton, Manila on Sunday night, destroying parcels, rare stamp collection and National IDs stored in the historical landmark built in 1926.
Miguel De Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — A nearly eight-hour fire yesterday destroyed almost the entire Central Post Office building in Manila, a structure of historical value.

The fire left the Manila Central Post Office “totally damaged,” according to BFP Metro Manila director Chief Supt. Nahum Tarroza, estimating that around P300 million worth of property could have been destroyed.

Philippine Postal Corp. (PhlPost) Postmaster General Luis Carlos said everything was destroyed in the fire, including some national IDs that were set to be delivered.

When asked how extensive was the damage sustained from the fire at the Manila

Central Post Office, Carlos replied “the whole thing, including the stamps, mail and parcels, paintings, computer records and data.”

First responders rushed to the building after receiving information from a stay-in employee of the Manila Central Post Office who saw thick smoke coming from the basement at 11:41 p.m. last Sunday, according to a report from the Manila Fire Department.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) yesterday gave assurance national IDs destroyed by the Post Office fire would be replaced without additional cost to registered individuals.

“We assure the public that the PhilIDs (Philippine Identification) affected by the fire shall be replaced by the PSA at no additional cost to concerned registered persons, following protocols set by the PSA for such scenarios,” PSA Undersecretary Dennis Mapa, National Statistician and Civil Registrar General said in a statement.

Based on the initial information from PHLPost, he said only the PhilIDs for delivery in the City of Manila were affected by the fire.

Carlos said other PhilIDs had already been sent out to their regional offices in other parts of the country.

Firemen raised fire alarms overnight: second alarm at 1:28 a.m. yesterday; third alarm at 2:17 a.m., fourth alarm at 4:28 a.m. and fifth alarm at 4:32 a.m.

Fire alarms were elevated to Task Force Alpha at 4:36 a.m.; Task Force Bravo at 4:45 a.m.; Task Force Charlie at 5:02 a.m.; Task Force Delta at 5:25 a.m., and general alarm – the highest alarm any fire station could raise – at 5:54 a.m.

An estimated 82 fire trucks – 42 from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and 40 volunteer firefighting groups – in Metro Manila and neighboring areas responded to the emergency.

Firefighters struggled to put out the raging fire, using ladders to reach higher floors while others used turrets to pump water to higher ground. Firefighters also sourced water from the nearby Pasig river and the fountain at Liwasang Bonifacio.

The BFP declared the fire under control at 7:22 am. As of press time, the agency has yet to determine the cause of the fire. Authorities said the blaze could have come from the basement, where the interiors were made of mostly flammable materials.

The BFP noted five BFP firefighters, a volunteer fireman and a 16-year-old female civilian suffered various injuries like possible fractures, difficulty in breathing and first-degree burns.

Historical significance

But more than the stamps, mails, parcels and other valuables lost during the fire, what the Postmaster General regretted the most is the damage sustained by their building because it is a “heritage site.”

“Everybody is asking of course about the stamps, some of the museum (pieces), the corporate data. But at the end of the day, it is the building itself because it’s a heritage building,” Carlos said.

In 2018 the National Museum declared the Manila Central Post Office building in Manila as an Important Cultural Property, recognized for its “exceptional cultural, artistic and historical significance.”

The Manila Central Post Office was built in 1926 by Filipino architects Juan Arellano and Tomas Mapua. It was rehabilitated after the Second World War.

Carlos said that while no PHLPost employee was injured during the incident, the fire “affects us a lot” in terms of operations. Central Office personnel would temporarily hold office at the canteen and their small building located at the right side of the gutted edifice.

Meanwhile, their Manila Post Office would be housed at the PHLPost’s Foreign Surface Mail Distribution Center in Delpan, Manila.

Carlos said they would have to ask a structural engineer to assess if the PHLPost Manila Central Post Office Building is still structurally sound and if it could still be used. – Evelyn Macairan, Sheila Crisostomo, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Ralph Edwin Villanueva, Louella Desiderio

Related video:

vuukle comment



  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with