Solon pushes crackdown on illegal firecrackers, manufacturers

MANILA, Dec. 26 (PNA) — Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian on Friday urged the Philippine National Police (PNP) to intensify its campaign against illegal firecrackers by conducting a crackdown against known manufacturers and sellers of life-threatening firecrackers.
“It is best for the PNP to conduct preemptive raids against illegal firecracker manufacturers so that their life-threatening products will not end up on the streets during the New Year’s Eve revelry,” said Gatchalian, who is pushing for the imposition of tougher regulations on firework products that are being sold nationwide especially during the Christmas season.
The PNP earlier warned the public against using at least seven illegal firecrackers as its explosive content is beyond what the law provides for. These include Piccolo, Pop Pop, Goodbye Philippines or Crying Goodbye Bading, Goodbye Yolanda or Goodbye Napoles, Watusi, Pla-pla and Giant Kuwitis.
These firecrackers – except for watusi – have explosives content of over 0.2 grams, following Republic Act No. 7183 which guides the fireworks industry.
Only 68 manufacturers, 285 dealers, and 2,551 retailers of firecrackers have license from the PNP Firearms and Explosive Office (FEO).
Among the legitimate firecrackers that can be used during the New Year revelry are the Baby Rocket, Bawang, El Diablo, Judas Belt, Paper Caps, Pulling of strings, Sky Rocket or kwitis and the small “trianggulo” Pyrotechnic devices that can be used include Butterfly, Fountain, Jumbo Regular, Luces, Mabuhay, Roman Candle, Sparklers, Trompillo, Whistle devices and Pailaw.
In filing House Bill No. 4434, Gatchalian expressed hope that amending certain provisions in Republic Act No. 7183 would ensure a healthier environment for Filipinos especially children who are most vulnerable to firecracker-related injuries.
“We endure the pollutants and countless injuries caused by the use of firecrackers especially every New Year’s eve. Until when should we endure this cycle of peril to our health and environment?” asked Gatchalian in his bill’s explanatory note.
Dubbing his bill as “Firecracker Regulation Act of 2014,” the Valenzuela lawmaker highlighted the need for the government to do more about fireworks that are also considered as hazards to public safety.
Gatchalian, a member of House Committee on Trade and Industry, wants local government units (LGUs) to designate pyrotechnic zones in their own locality to avoid fire and injuries.
“These amendments do not entirely do away with time-honored merry-making but enforces to provide stricter regulations in an effort to protect our people,” he said.
If enacted, the bill would require fireworks dealers to submit the names and addresses of their affiliates to the Philippine National Police’s Firearms and Explosive Office (PNP-FEO) upon securing business permit.
A maximum of P5,000 would be imposed as limit for a single purchase of any firecracker or pyrotechnic device, excluding those with permit from PNP-FEO.
The bill would also prohibit selling fireworks to any person below 18 years old while requiring children who would use firecrackers to be under the strict supervision of their guardians.
Those who will fail to secure their dealer’s permit through legal means would be penalized with a fine ranging from P100,000 to P500,000 or an imprisonment ranging from six months to three years.
Dealers found guilty of selling fireworks to minors would be imposed with a fine of P100,000 and would have their permit revoked.
Meanwhile, parents found guilty of instigating firework deals of their children would be imposed with a fine of P10,000.
Citing a report, Gatchalian said the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed a total of 1,018 firework-related injuries in the first quarter of 2014. It was nine percent higher compared to last year. He added that 25 percent or a total of 250 injuries were from children less than 10 years old which were mostly caused by the banned piccolo.
The Department of Health (DOH) had maintained that the use of firecrackers should be allowed only as an activity managed by respective local governments and only in designated areas within their community.
House Bill 4434 is currently pending before House Committee on Public Order and Safety.(PNA)