Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) Congressman Win Gatchalian urged the Philippine National Police (PNP) to strictly enforce the existing laws against illegal firecrackers even as he maintained that tougher laws will be useless if law enforcers will not move to crackdown on manufacturers of illegal firecrackers.
“The PNP and other law enforcement agencies should strictly enforce the existing laws against illegal firecrackers since enforcement is what is lacking. And this is the reason why manufacturers of illegal firecrackers continue to ply their trade during the holiday season,” said Gatchalian, who is pushing for the imposition of tougher regulations on firework products that are being sold all over the country during the Christmas season.
Gatchalian said banning all types of firecrackers as what Health Secretary Janet Garin has been saying will be of no use if the PNP and other law enforcers will not strictly enforce the pertinent provisions of Republic Act No. 7183 or the law that governs the fireworks industry.
Under R.A. 7183, firecrackers that have explosives content of more than 0.2 grams are considered illegal and should not be sold in the market. There are at least seven illegal firecrackers as its explosive content is beyond what the law provides for and these include Piccolo, Pop Pop, Goodbye Philippines or Crying Bading, Yolanda or Goodbye Napoles, Pla-Pla, Giant Kuwitis and Watusi because of their toxic contents.
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.
Gatchalian pointed out that GMA 7 reporters were able to interview manufacturers of illegal firecrackers like Goodbye Philippines and Super Pla-Pla in Bocaue, Bulacan which shows that the Bulacan police provincial office had been remiss in enforcing the law against these life-threatening firecrackers.
“I cannot understand why GMA 7 reporters can locate illegal manufacturers and interview them while Bulacan policemen remain blind and if ever they confiscate illegal firecrackers, no arrests were made which further emboldens the manufacturers,” Gatchalian said.
Based on 2014 PNP data, only 68 manufacturers, 285 dealers, and 2,551 retailers of firecrackers are licensed by the PNP-Firearms and Explosive Office based in Camp Crame.
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.
In 2014, the Department of Health recorded 860 cases of firecracker-related injuries in the country. As of morning of December 31, a total of 185 firework-related injuries were reported in the country, 133 of which were caused by piccolo and four were cases of indiscriminate firing.
Dubbing his bill as “Firecracker Regulation Act of 2014,” Gatchalian 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.
Gatchalian’s bill provides a maximum of P5,000 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. (R. Burgos)