Along with the Department of Health’s call on the public to skip firecrackers in their New Year celebration, Senator Win Gatchalian has renewed his call to ban the sale and use of firecrackers and pyrotechniques except for authorized fireworks displays.
“Kung isasabatas natin ang pagbabawal sa mga mapanganib na paputok, magiging mahalagang hakbang ito upang itaguyod ang kaligtasan at kalusugan ng publiko. Bagama’t naging bahagi na ng ating tradisyon ang pagpapaputok tuwing Bagong Taon, walang saysay ang pagpapanatili sa mga ito kung nalalagay naman sa panganib ang ating mga kababayan, lalo na ang mga kabataan,” Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian took note that 54 firecracker-related injuries have already been recorded by the DOH as of morning of December 30 since December 21, including the case of a seven-year old boy from General Trias, Cavite whose two fingers were amputated. According to the DOH, 35 of these cases involved illegal firecrackers like piccolo and boga.
Gatchalian said a firecracker ban will accelerate the decline in New Year-related injuries and air pollution levels. The DOH reported that firecracker-related injuries from December 21, 2018 to January 2, 2019 reached 236, 52 percent lower compared to the 492 cases recorded from December 21, 2017 to January 2, 2018. This is also 71 percent or 578 cases lower than the five-year average of 814.
According to research institution Manila Observatory, particulate matter (PM) 2.5 concentration from the period 2013-2019 is lower compared to 2003-2011. PM2.5 is a fine particle from smoke and haze that can pose heart, lung, and other health problems when inhaled. Despite this downward trend, PM2.5 concentration at the start of 2019 is still at an unhealthy level, putting even healthy people at risk of respiratory effects.
“Sa pagbubukas ng bagong taon, lagi nating hinihiling ang maayos na kalusugan para sa atin at sa ating mga pamilya pero paglabas ng ating mga bahay ang sumasalubong sa atin madalas ay makapal na usok. Maliban sa mga sugat, ang pangmatagalang epekto ng mga paputok ay ang iba’t ibang malubhang sakit na dulot ng maruming hangin,” Gatchalian added.
Gatchalian has filed in July this year Senate bill 724 or an act banning the sale, distribution and use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices, which in effect repeals inconsistent provisions in RA 7183, an act regulating the sale, manufacture, distribution and use of firecrackers.
Under the proposed measure, entities who want to have fireworks displays need to secure a special permit from the Philippine National Police Fireworks and Explosives Office (PNP-FEO). Upon presentation of the permit, the LGU will designate an area where the fireworks display will be held. The bill also requires technically-equipped professionals to handle the fireworks.
Gatchalian stressed that there must be a way to protect our people from traditions that are inimical to public health and safety.