Charges to be filed vs. Zambo fireworks stockyard owners

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/8 Feb) – A task force has recommended for the filing of criminal, civil and administrative charges against the owners of the stockyard of Pacific Fireworks and Pacific Hardware Enterprises that went up in smoke following an explosion last January 28 in this city.

At least 33 persons were injured when 60,000 pounds of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic materials went up in smoke following an explosion at the stockyard. The incident also razed to the ground 16 houses, destroyed nearby business establishments and a hospital.

The recommendation was contained in the 16-page report of Task Force Pacific, which is headed by Supt. Jaime Ramirez, city fire district director.

The Task Force Pacific was created to investigate the cause of the fire at Barangay Camino Nuevo.

Mayor Celso Lobregat said the task force has established the culpability of the owners for negligence in disregard to the safety of lives and limbs of people working and staying in the stockyard and other properties near the area where the container vans loaded with firecrackers had been stored.

Pacific Fireworks and Pacific Hardware Enterprises are owned by brothers Benjamin and Frederick Chiong, respectively. They share the same stockyard.

In establishing owner’s culpability, Lobregat said the task force cited Republic Act 7183, which regulates the sale, manufacture, distribution and use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices.

The task force said the owners have violated Rule 12 of the Rules and Regulations Governing the Administrative and Enforcement of R.A. 7183, which states, “Warehouses for storage of explosive ingredients and finished firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices shall be located, constructed and managed so as to guard against pilferage and accidental explosion of their contents and to prevent injury to person or damage to property in case an explosion may occur.”

The Ramirez-led task force, quoting the same law, further noted that warehouses for firecrackers and other pyrotechnics “shall be located at safe distance away from their stores, establishments and from inhabited buildings.”

Other violations of Pacific Fireworks include negligence or imprudence resulting in multiple physical injuries to persons, civil liabilities for damages and administrative sanction on business permit.

The ZC (Zamboanga City) Pacific Hardware Enterprises-Zamboanga JA Trading Corporation, on the other hand, was also found to have no license or permit issued by appropriate agencies to sell and distribute firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices. (MindaNews)