GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/08 December) – The city government and the local police have stepped up the enforcement of a standing regulation on the selling and use of firecrackers and pyrotechnics in various parts of the city in a bid to keep the area safe during the Christmas season.
City Administrator Jose Mariano Gonzales said Wednesday the local government has relayed instructions to the city police to intensify its monitoring on the entry and distribution of various firecrackers and pyrotechnics, especially products that were classified as illegal based on the provisions of City Ordinance No. 11 passed in 2005.
The ordinance bans the use and sale of firecrackers and regulated the use of pyrotechnics in the entire city during the Christmas season and other local celebrations.
“We will enforce the full provisions of the ordinance and make sure that all violators will be dealt with and sanctioned,” he said.
Gonzales said the move was mainly aimed at preventing the occurrence of firecracker- or pyrotechnic-related accidents similar to the Christmas Eve explosion amid a row of firecracker stalls at the Oval Plaza here last year that left three persons dead and two others injured.
The explosion, which was caused by a poorly lighted “thunder fighter” or “12-shots” firework, gutted down at least 21 firecracker stalls where some local residents had gathered then to celebrate Christmas.
Gonzales said the city government has initially designated specific trading areas in the city for the pyrotechnics, fireworks and other related items.
He said the trading areas were identified based on recommendations from the city police and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), which monitors the compliance of the traders with various safety standards.
Jennylyn Te-Elan, city deputy fire marshal, said they have conducted safety seminars for pyrotechnic and fireworks traders as a requirement for the issuance of their permits.
She said they specifically briefed them on standard fire safety regulations as well as some guidelines for their customers to observe such as the prohibition on smoking and use of any pyrotechnic and related products near the stalls or designated trading areas.
Senior Supt. Cedrick Train, city police director, said he has directed the city police’s patrol unit to regularly monitor public markets and other possible firecracker trading areas in the city.
He said they assigned more than 300 policemen to secure the city’s Oval Plaza, where the designated pyrotechnic trading area was located.
The Oval Plaza is the main venue of the month-long “Pasko sa GenSan” Festival, which formally opened last Monday with the popular “Anime” or Japanese-inspired animation as theme.
The festivities feature nightly shows, food stalls, trade fair, carnival and various competitions sponsored by the city government and other local groups.
The city government started implementing a total firecracker ban in the city in 2003 through an executive order issued by then Mayor Pedro Acharon Jr. as a measure to preempt attempts by suspected terrorists in carrying out their plots using firecrackers as covers.
The City Council passed Ordinance Number 11 in 2005 to give “more teeth” to the firecracker ban and the regulation of pyrotechnics. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)