Lawmakers seek House probe into Manila Central Post Office fire

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 24) — Dozens of lawmakers are pushing for a House probe into the massive fire that gutted the historic Manila Central Post Office (MCPO) building late Sunday evening.

In House Resolution No. 1019, 42 legislators — who are part of the Arts, Culture and Creative Industries Bloc of Congress — said a probe is necessary considering the significance of the MCPO, which was declared an important cultural property and a heritage site.

READ: How the Manila Central Post Office made its mark in PH history

They also stressed the need to assess the response mechanisms employed by authorities, and to evaluate existing safeguards to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Rep. Christopher de Venecia particularly noted reports that the nearly century-old building had no fire suppression system or even water sprinklers. He said they want to identify other government buildings lacking fire protection equipment.

"It took about 30 hours to declare fire out," the chairman of the House Committee on Creative Industry and Performing Arts pointed out.

"Apparently, this may have been a disaster waiting to happen. We will certainly take a close look to ascertain the real timeline of events from during the fire and the building maintenance and security logs," De Venecia added.

The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) earlier said the building was "totally burned" as the materials that made up the structure easily caught fire. Among those destroyed in the blaze were national IDs.

READ: PSA to replace nat’l IDs affected by Manila Post Office fire

Authorities also reported that 15 people were hurt, including 11 members of the BFP, a volunteer, and a civilian.

The Manila City Engineering Office said it is currently working with other government agencies to jointly assess the damage to the post office and to recommend whether to condemn or restore the iconic building.

Under the law, an important cultural property may receive state funding for its protection, conservation and restoration.