GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/03 Jan.) — South Cotabato officials are planning to revive moves for the passage of a provincial ordinance that will totally ban the selling and use of firecrackers and fireworks in the wake of the rising injury cases in the area during the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Provincial board member Agustin Demaala Jr., chair of the provincial board’s peace and order committee, said Friday he will arrange in their regular session next week the immediate holding of public hearings and consultations for the proposed measure, which he described as the most effective strategy in promoting injury-free holidays.
He will push for the completion of the public hearings within the first quarter of the year to facilitate the early passage of the proposed ordinance.
“There were earlier proposals coming from the business sector for just a selective and not a total ban of firecrackers and fireworks but I think the situation now shows that we really need to totally ban these materials,” he said.
Demaala was referring to the increasing cases of firecracker-related injuries in the province in the last two weeks, specifically during the Christmas and New Year revelries.
As of Friday morning, the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) reported that the province’s firecracker injuries already increased to 75 from 63 on Thursday.
Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., IPHO chief, said the latest figure is 11 percent lower compared to the 84 cases in the same period last year but said they were still waiting for reports coming from other hospitals and rural health units in the province.
He said Koronadal City recorded the most number of injuries with 30 followed by Tupi town with 14, Norala with eight and Surallah with seven.
Majority of the firecracker injuries involved children and were caused by the banned piccolo firecracker, he added.
In November, Demaala filed a proposed ordinance seeking a firecracker ban in the province but eventually shelved it last month in favor of a resolution that called for the strict implementation of the firecrackers and pyrotechnics law.
The resolution specifically urged the Philippine National Police and mayors of the province’s 10 towns and lone city to ensure that the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 7183 or the “Act Regulating the Sale, Manufacture, Distribution and Use of Firecrackers and other Pyrotechnic Devices” are properly enforced.
Under RA 7183, firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices that have more than the allowable explosive content are strictly prohibited.
Among the banned materials are watusi or the “dancing firecracker,” piccolo, super lolo, atomic big triangulo, mother rockets, lolo thunder, pillbox, boga, big Judas’ belt, big bawang, goodbye Philippines, kabasi, five star, pla-pla, OG, giant whistle bomb and unlabeled firecrackers.
The Departments of Health and Trade and Industry had issued prohibitions regarding the use and selling of the said firecrackers and fireworks.
But Demaala said the enforcement of RA 7183 posed problems for local enforcers as it is selective and regulatory in nature.
“It’s easier to implement a total ban (on firecrackers and fireworks) than a selective measure,” the official said.
He cited the experience of Davao City that remained injury-free in the last 13 years due to its total firecracker ban.
“Other local government units, like North Cotabato, are now moving towards a total firecracker ban and I think it’s time for the province to consider that also,” Demaala added. (MindaNews)