Stronger enforcement of firecracker rules sought

By: Gail T. Momblan

THE Department of Health (DOH) in Western Visayas is pushing for a tougher implementation of Executive Order 28 or the “Regulation and Control of the Use of Other Firecrackers and Other Pyrotechnic Devices”.

The health office in the region saw the need for stricter implementation of the law after the number of firecracker-related injuries from the recent holidays continue to spike.

“Ang iban nga mga bata ginapamulot nila sa higad dalan, nagalupok,” said Dr. May Ann Sta. Lucia, DOH-6 Violence and Injury Prevention Program regional coordinator.

Forty firecracker injuries recorded from Dec 21 to 31 rose to 67 cases in their latest monitoring on Jan 2.

The province of Negros Occidental with 18 cases and Bacolod City with 12 topped the list.

The province of Iloilo has ten firecracker cases, Capiz has nine, Iloilo City has eight, Aklan has six, Guimaras has three and Antique has one firecracker incident.

“May ara kita ginpa-guwa nga Executive Order 28 which prohibits the use of firecrackers in residential areas and highly populated areas,” Sta. Lucia said.

The EO states that “the use of firecrackers shall henceforth be confined to community fireworks displays.”

Fireworks display qualify as a ‘community fireworks display’ if “it  conducted on the occasion or as part of a celebration, competition, or similar event held in a venue other than a place of residence”,  “conducted under the supervision of a trained person duly licensed by the PNP” and “allowed by the municipality or city concerned through a permit specifying the date and time of the fireworks display and the specific area in which the display will be conducted, in conformity with national standards, rules and regulations.”

Republic Act No. 7183, on the other hand, lists the allowed firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices.

“That is why ever since we have the Republic Act na kita, nga madugay na, kung diin gincategorize ang firecrackers into illegal and legal,” she said.

Fire Chief Inspector Melanie Habawel of Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP)-6 recently urged the public to use firecrackers stipulated in RA 7183.

These include baby rocket, bawang, small triangulo, pulling of strings, paper caps, El Diablo, Watusi, Juda’s belt, Sky rocket (kwitis) for firecrackers.

For pyrotechnic devices, Sparklers, Luces, Fountain, Jubo regular and special, Mabuhay, Roman candle, Trompillo, Airwolf, Whistle device, Butterfly, and “pailaws” are allowed.

“Yet, we still have many illegal sellers and users,” Sta. Lucia said.

Sta. Lucia said she raised the health office’s concern to the Philippine National Police (PNP) to come up with a ‘new strategy’.

Sta. Lucia said the PNP conducted thirteen operations to eradicate the selling of illegal firecrackers.

“Kay ginapangdakop ang illegal sellers lang. Siling ko why not nga pati ang users (of illegal firecrackers),” she said.

Most of the victims in the region were injured after using “boga” or improvised PVC cannon tops which is considered illegal.

“So now, I’m thinking nga ma-come up kita sang stronger strategy sa diin i-enforce guid ang law,” she said.

She said the agency monitors and records injuries, whether these were caused by legal or illegal firecracker.

“Kag makita man sa amon system kung sa diin natabo ang pagpalupok sang firecracker. Kung sa residential bala ina or sa street,” she said.

Victims of firecrackers are mostly 6 to 15 years old who suffered hand and eye injuries.