How is the city police prepping for New Year’s eve revelry?

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

The Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) on Friday said that it is prepared to respond to community disturbances, particularly on the sale and use of firecrackers and fireworks, for the New Year’s Eve celebrations tonight, Dec 31, 2022.

ICPO spokesperson and Station 1 chief Shella Mae Sangrines told Daily Guardian on Air that they are moving based on directives from Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Rodolfo Azurin, Jr. and Police Regional Office-6 (PRO-6) director Leo Francisco.

She said that their specific task involves implementing and regulating the use and sale of firecrackers in the city, given that there is still no total ban.

Executive Order No. 28 issued by then-President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017 banned the use of firecrackers in residential areas and limited their use, together with fireworks, through community fireworks programs during New Years’ celebrations.

“Since there is no total ban on firecrackers and pyrotechnics, we are here to help in implementing and regulating these, in that whichever is allowed should be the only ones being lit up by members of the public, and those banned we will focus on that, especially by our Civil Security Group and Firearms and Explosives offices,” Sangrines said.

She said that the ICPO has recalled officers who were on Christmas breaks and leaves, following Azurin Jr.’s directive of “maximum deployment” to be deployed to populous establishments by the daytime and in communities by nighttime to prevent related casualties.

“There is maximum deployment and police visibility during the daytime because there are many last-minute shoppers, and in the evening [we will be in the] barangays because establishments would be closed by then,” she said.

“We don’t have any areas for community fireworks displays this year, so the fireworks shows would be on the streets. The challenge really is within the barangays, if [lighting fireworks and firecrackers] is allowed,” she added.

Banned firecrackers and fireworks include ‘watusi’, piccolo, ‘super lolo’, ‘pla-pla’, ‘boga’ cannons, ‘Bin Laden’, and ‘Super Yolanda’, among others, which the ICPO is also monitoring together with the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).

The ICPO also met with barangay captains in all districts to engage in discussions, especially on banned fireworks, which have continued to be used by the public, as well as the possible dangers of stray bullets being set off.

As to the lack of muzzle-taping of guns as part of their preparations in the past years, Sangrines said that this was put off due to its lack of effectiveness in preventing gun-related deaths in New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Instead, the police were enjoined to exercise discipline in using their firearms “to inspire the community” to refrain from using theirs.

Data by the Department of Health-Western Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH-WV CHD) between December 21 to 26 indicated that there have been 11 fireworks-related injuries in the region, with 0 in Iloilo City.