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Opinion

Fire alarm

SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

What’s this I heard, that Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes was supposedly the cause of city firefighters being delayed in responding to a fire in one of the city’s squatters’ areas? Supposedly, it was because the residents voted for his opponent in the last election.

If it’s true, how petty could he get? But I don’t think the mayor would do that, since he’s the father of the city. A father is not supposed to play favorites among his children.

Anyway, do read on and judge for yourselves.

Firemen came 30 minutes after the fire broke out at Sitio Paradise, Barangay Looc. This is ironic, as the fire station is practically within spitting distance from the scene, according to reports I gathered.

It took a call from Congresswoman Lolypop Dizon (what a name!) for the firemen to respond, reports say.

Reports say the first fire truck arrived at the scene 30 minutes after the blaze started; then, the second fire truck that arrived didn’t have water and, worse, blocked the other responding trucks from getting to the scene.

“More than 30 minutes pa una niabot (before it came). First trauck (sic) kay gamay (was small). Second (fire truck) walay tubig (didn’t carry water).Unya dako na kaayo ang kalayo (By then, the fire had spread),” a text message from a resident said.

The cause of the fire is suspicious, according to several of my sources, since the residents were told to vacate earlier as the city government would use the area.

Methinks the complaint merits an investigation from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

*      *      *

The peace and order situation of a city or town depends on the fast response of the police when going to a crime scene and the swiftness of its fire department when answering a fire alarm.

If the reports are true that Mandaue City firefighters arrived 30 minutes late at the fire scene, then the city has an inept fire department.

That the fire scene was practically within spitting distance from the station adds to the fire station’s ineptitude.

Even if there was no fire alarm, the thick smoke from the burning shanties should have alerted the firefighters on duty.

The Mandaue City fire gives credence to the public perception that the Bureau of Fire Protection only protects the houses of the rich.

*      *      *

Soon, there will be less crimes committed by housemaids against their employers, particularly if these household employees will be hired through employment agencies.

The House of Representatives should be lauded for passing on the third and final reading a bill that will hold an employment agency equally liable for, say, domestic helpers stealing from their employers.

The now defunct Isumbong mo kay Tulfo received many complaints of maids running away with money and valuables stolen from their employers.

I remember that one such complaint concerned a single mother whose child was always maltreated by the housemaid whenever she was away at work.

Although “Isumbong” had the housemaid arrested and jailed, that incident stayed in my mind, because of the maid’s brazen act.

A relative of mine hired a maid from an employment agency. The maid tried to poison the whole household after being reprimanded for being lazy.

Luckily, the poison was discovered after the maid ran away.

When my relative went to the employment agency where the criminal-minded maid was sourced from, she was told that the maid was a new hire. The agency didn’t take responsibility for the maid.

And then there was this maid who wore her wealthy employer’s bathing suit, photographed herself wearing the expensive suit by the swimming pool and – listen to this – boasted about it, pictures and all, on social media!

Another employer complained that when she and her husband were away on vacation, their maid and the family driver would always have sex on her matrimonial bed.

They only learned about the trysts when the maid became pregnant.

I remember a joke about a housemaid asking permission from her female employer to leave, as she was going back to her province.

The employer asked, “Have you also asked permission from sir,” referring to the husband.

“Madam, he’s gone ahead to my province,” was the reply.

*      *      *

Of course, not all employers are saints. Some of them treat their house helpers like slaves.

I recall that a woman in her mid-20s was taken to the Isumbong mo kay Tulfo office by a Good Samaritan, after he saw her aimlessly roaming the streets.

A bell was attached to the girl’s back, so her employer would know in what part of the house she was located.

It turned out the maid ran away from her employer, who beat her up frequently. The employer even injured her face with a hot flat iron.

I am not exaggerating when I say she looked like a creature from outer space because of her ugly looks.

The girl told me that her parents were tenants of the employer’s family in Bicol, and that she was forced to work in Manila to pay off the family debt.

I had the girl placed at the home for abused women in Muntinlupa, while we filed criminal charges against her employer.

You know what? The girl didn’t pursue the criminal charges in court against her erstwhile employer after she was paid off.

I was told she was given crisp bills amounting to P20,000.

Poor girl! She was dazzled by the amount, when I could have asked for much, much more in her behalf from the abusive employer.

MAYOR JONAS CORTES

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