MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 8 Jan) – Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Bukidnon said they support passing legislation either banning or regulating the sale and use of firecrackers in the province following reports of increase in the number of injuries during revelries in the run up to the New Year.
The Provincial Health Office (PHO) reported 19 firecracker-related injuries in the last New Year revelries compared to only 5 a year ago. The cases were documented from December 29 to midday of January 2.
Board member Gordon Torres (3rd District) told MindaNews he will study the proposal for an ordinance banning firecrackers in Bukidnon. Torres chairs the committee on peace and order at the provincial board. He ordered his staff to study ordinances passed in other areas, like Davao City’s, which started banning firecrackers in 2001.
Valencia City councilor Oliver Owen Garcia, who sits as an ex-officio member of the provincial board as president of the Philippine Councilors League in Bukidnon, said he will support the move to pass an ordinance regulating firecrackers, saying it will be for the safety of the public, especially children.
“It will also compel manufacturers and vendors to sell only firecrackers observing the standards set by government,” he added.
House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. was quoted in reports from Manila-based reporters that local government units (LGUs) should take on the proposal banning all kinds of firecrackers as firework-related injuries continue to increase.
The reports quoted Belmonte, Marikina City Rep. Miro Quimbo and House Deputy Majority Leader and Citizens Battle Against Corruption (Cibac) Rep. Sherwin Tugna as rejecting the call of Health Secretary Enrique Ona for lawmakers and other stakeholders to consider a total ban on firecrackers after getting dismayed over the continuing increase in firecracker injuries.
Belmonte noted that the cities of Davao and Zamboanga already implemented a total ban.
Board member Marivic Montesclaros (3rd District) said it is timely to do something about firecrackers sale and use in the province.
But she noted that there might be a need to regulate only, not to ban.
She added that under regulation, sale will be limited to government and other duly-accredited institutions.
“They will be allowed only during fiesta time, foundation days, and during Christmas and New Year holidays,” she added. She said the legislation should also cover pyrotechnic effects aside from firecrackers.
Board member Jay Albarece (1st District) said it is important to pursue such legislation. But he said one consideration is the economic impact as the livelihood of those dependent on the firecrackers industry will be affected.
Dr. Ricardo Reyes, PHO chief, said it is time for the local government units in Bukidnon to pass ordinances banning the sale and use of firecrackers. He added that it must be towns and cities that should pass ordinances because they will be at the frontline of enforcement.
Reyes cited the example of Davao City, which pioneered the banning of firecrackers in Mindanao, has been promoting the use of “torotot” or party blowers to welcome the New Year.
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte banned the sale of firecrackers and pyrotechnics during the Christmas season in 2001 by not issuing vendors and malls business permits. He said the money for fireworks would be better spent on food. He also announced a P5,000 bounty for those who could pinpoint anyone firing a gun during the merrymaking.