Police tightens firecracker watch in R-12

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/08 Dec.) — The Police Regional Office 12 has stepped up the enforcement of the firecrackers and pyrotechnics law in a bid to keep the region safe during the Christmas season.

Chief Insp. Romeo Galgo Jr., firearms, explosives, security agencies and guards section chief of the Region 12 police, said they mainly intensified their monitoring on the entry and distribution of various firecrackers and pyrotechnics, especially products that were classified as illegal under Republic Act (RA) 7183.

RA 7183 or the “Act Regulates the Sale, Manufacture, Distribution and Use of Firecrackers and other Pyrotechnic Devices,” has identified a range of prohibited products based on their size or makeup and potential hazards to their users.

Among the banned materials are watusi or the “dancing firecracker,” piccolo, super lolo, atomic big triangulo, mother rockets, lolo thunder, pillbox, boga, big Judah’s belt, big bawang, kwiton, goodbye Philippines, kabasi, five star, pla-pla, OG, giant whistle bomb and unlabeled firecrackers.

The Department of Health and the Department of Trade and Industry had issued prohibitions regarding the use and selling of the said firecrackers and fireworks.

“We’ve instructed our units and police stations within the region to make sure that the provisions of this (RA 7183) law are properly implemented or enforced, especially the prohibitions regarding some firecrackers and pyrotechnics,” Galgo said in an interview over Brigada News TV.

He said they have been closely coordinating with local government units and local firecracker retailers for its proper implementation.

Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

In this city, the police official said they have initially met with officials and representatives of the area’s firecracker retailers association to inform them about the standing regulations and directives that were issued by the city government.

He said the local government has a standing measure, Ordinance No. 11, series of 2005, which 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.

Galgo said City Mayor Ronnel Rivera also issued an order designating a portion of the city’s oval plaza as the sole display area for firecrackers and pyrotechnics.

“All those displayed in other areas of the city are considered illegal and will be confiscated by our operatives,” he said.

The designation of a single display area for pyrotechnics was aimed at ensuring the proper monitoring of the retailers’ compliance with various safety regulations.

The city government also wants to prevent 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 in 2009 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 to celebrate Christmas.

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. (MindaNews)