BFP revokes fire safety certificate of QC orphanage

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 26) — The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) on Friday revoked the Fire Safety Inspection Certificate (FSIC) of Gentle Hands Inc. (GHI), a Quezon City orphanage, after the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) ordered its closure.

The DSWD issued a cease-and-desist order against GHI last Monday after Secretary Rex Gatchalian visited the orphanage and claimed it put children in "imminent danger." It directed the BFP to conduct a fire safety inspection of the building.

READ: DSWD orders QC orphanage closure

"GHI was found to have violated pertinent provisions of the revised implementing rules and regulations of R.A. (Republic Act) 9514 or the Fire Code of the Philippines during said inspection resulting to the revocation of its FSIC," BFP Quezon City district marshal SSupt. Aristotle Banaga said in a report to the DSWD dated May 25.

Some violations noted by the BFP included obstructed hallways, narrow aisles and corridors, blocked fire exits, no automatic fire detection and alarm systems, no approved automatic sprinklers, insufficient emergency lighting, and no emergency evacuation plan.

Banaga said the BFP is monitoring GHI to see if it had rectified the violations.

However, GHI questioned the BFP's revocation of their fire safety certificate.

"I don't understand how suddenly we have violations, where we didn't have violations ever in the past. We always have updated certificates and we've always complied," GHI Executive Director Charity Graff told CNN Philippines, in response to the revocation.

Graff further said GHI did not receive any warning on the supposed violations.

"We've been in this building and been licensed as a child caring agency under the DSWD since 2004…should we have been given a request, we would have done it immediately," she said.

She added that GHI would address the violations so that 149 children who were sent to other orphanages in Alabang, Mandaluyong, and Quezon City could be returned to the facility.

The DSWD earlier said it is investigating three cases of children under GHI's temporary custody who have allegedly displayed disruptive behavior.

On Friday, GHI returned a one-year-old child to its mother, who claimed that her request to regain custody of her child was earlier denied by GHI.

"The parenting capability is already available so di ko po malaman [I don't know] what's the reason for holding my baby," Melanie Marzan, the child’s mother, said.

In a press conference, the DSWD said Marzan had passed the agency’s assessment.

However, Graff maintained that GHI had followed protocol to ensure parents are mentally fit to take care of their children.

"We don't keep children when there is a safe place for them to be…We didn't feel that it was time and we didn't feel that she [Marzan] complied," Graff said.

CNN Philippines correspondent Paige Javier contributed to this report.