FIRE HITS CUSTOMS BUILDING IN MANILA
MANILA -- A fire gutted the Bureau of Customs – Port of Manila (BOC-POM) building on Friday evening.
The BOC said the blaze started on the third floor of the structure at about 9 p.m. and reached the fifth alarm before it was declared out at 7:10 a.m. Saturday.
BOC spokesperson, lawyer Erastus Sandino Austria, assured that there will be no disruption of POM services as the offices affected by the fire will be temporarily housed at the BOC Gymnasium, specifically the Formal Entry Division.
He added that the other offices will temporarily stay in nearby areas to maintain efficient processing of transactions at the port.
"This is the immediate concern and priority of the Commissioner," Austria said in a statement, referring to BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero.
He noted that they will also coordinate with other nearby government offices, such as the Philippine Ports Authority, the Maritime Industry Authority, as well as the port operator’s building that is near POM for the possible use of their offices for BOC personnel.
More than 30 fire trucks from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) were deployed to the site to contain the fire while the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine National Police also responded.
Guerrero was immediately on the ground when the fire started, along with the deputy commissioners and directors of POM and Manila International Container Port district collectors.
The BOC and BFP are still determining the cause of the fire and its damages.
Austria said a formal investigation shall immediately commence.
He also relayed instructions from Guerrero that they will ensure the continuity and efficiency of port operations.
The POM is the bureau’s third largest collection district. (PNA)
Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler