Police heighten drive vs illegal pyrotechnics in South Cotabato

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/29 December) – Police operatives in South Cotabato have seized more than P12,000 worth of banned firecrackers and fireworks as they intensified their crackdown against the use and selling of illegal pyrotechnics in the area during the last two days.

Chief Insp. Carlos Hallado, deputy provincial director for operations of the South Cotabato Provincial Police Office, said Wednesday the illegal firecrackers were mostly seized from the stalls of unlicensed retailers in at least six municipalities in the province that were subjected to random inspections.

“These items were mostly abandoned by their retailers and were not claimed by anybody when they were hauled by our operatives,” he said.

The illegal firecrackers and fireworks were rounded up in the municipalities of Lake Sebu, T’boli, Banga, Sto. Nino, Norala and Surallah.

The seized items included 334 pieces of “kwitis” worth P3,240, 15 reams of “piccolo” worth P1,850, 30 reams of “OJ” worth P3,000 and 64 reams of “triangulo” worth P5,000, Hallado said.

“Based on reports submitted by the concerned municipal police stations, all the seized items were immediately destroyed either by burning or soaking them in water before they were disposed,” he said.

The police official said they will continue with the crackdown until the New Year’s Day to stop the continuing proliferation of banned and illegal firecrackers and fireworks in the area.

He said their personnel are presently making regular rounds in Tampakan town and in Koronadal City, checking the items being sold by local firecracker and fireworks stalls.

Dr. Rogelio Aturdino Jr., South Cotabato health officer, lauded the ongoing crackdown launched by local police units as he appealed to local residents to shun from buying and using any firecracker or firework during the New Year celebrations.

During the Christmas weekend, he said they recorded at least three firecracker-related injuries in the province.

The victims, who were from Koronadal City and Norala town, were children aged eight and nine years old and a 34 year-old man.

The Integrated Provincial Health Office of South Cotabato has been campaigning against the use of firecrackers and fireworks in the area as part of the Department of Health’s (DOH) “Iwas Paputok” drive, which mainly aims for a safe and injury-free New Year.

During the recent Christmas revelries, DOH officials in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao recorded an initial nine cases of firecracker-related injuries, three of which occurred in South Cotabato and four in this city. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)