Under fire


March is Fire Prevention Month in the Philippines, coinciding with the start of the sizzling summer season.

This is also the month when final exams and graduation ceremonies are held in most Philippine schools that have not yet implemented a calendar shift to the August-to-June international academic year.

Ironically, many fires still occur in Metro Manila during the month of March. Last week, Quezon City residents in the Diliman area woke up to blaring sirens. Billowing smoke was coming from the University of the Philippines campus, and true enough a big fire was raging at the iconic UP Shopping Center (not to be confused with the newer UP Town Center).

What made this incident suspicious was that it was the fifth such fire on the UP campus since 2015. Previously the CASAA food court, the Alumni Center, the Faculty Center, and a portion of Quezon Hall burned down under mysterious circumstances.

There seems to be a pattern: they occurred in the wee hours or on weekends when very few people were around; no casualties (mercifully) but with severe property damage; and high sentimental value for the destroyed structures.

What have the university authorities been doing after these conflagrations? Over the past three years, these cases remain unsolved and no heads have rolled. Those who are responsible – whether by commission or omission — must be fired.

p: wjg