Stricter regulations on use, sale of firecrackers eyed in South Cotabato

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/06 January) — South Cotabato officials are planning to introduce fresh amendments to a newly-passed ordinance that regulates the sale and distribution of firecrackers in the province in a bid to strengthen its enforcement.

Board member Agustin Demaala Jr., chair of the board’s committee on public order and safety, said he will push for the inclusion of stringent measures in terms of the implementation or enforcement of Ordinance No. 42, which was only passed last month.

He said the board collectively agreed during its passage to allow future amendments or changes to its provisions when necessary.

“I think we need to introduce some changes and improvements like the designation of specific areas or sites for fireworks displays during celebrations,” he said in a radio interview.

The ordinance, which was approved during the board’s regular session last Dec. 1, specifically regulates “the manufacture, sale, distribution, possession or use of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices” within the province’s 10 towns and lone city.

It mainly aims to reduce firecracker-related injuries in the area that reached a total of 112 cases in the recent Christmas and New Year holidays.

Demaala, who authored the ordinance, said the will study the measures adopted by the cities of Davao and Zamboanga, which posted zero firecracker and fireworks-related injuries during the Christmas and New Year revelries in the last several years.

He said the two areas had totally banned the selling and use of firecrackers but allowed the use of fireworks that have proper permits and done in designated areas.

“We can set up an area for the Christmas and New Year countdown where people can gather and celebrate similar to what was done recently in Roxas Boulevard in Manila and various cities in the world,” he said.

In terms of enforcement, the official said he is considering giving incentives to police operatives for successful operations against illegal firecrackers and fireworks.

He said there is also a need to strengthen the campaign against illegal firecracker and fireworks traders.

“When a violator is caught, the full penalties provided for in the ordinance should be applied. If we need to put them in jail then we should do that,” he said.

Under the ordinance, common types of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices that contain at least 0.2 grams or 1/3 teaspoon or less of explosive powder content would not be banned.

These include firecrackers like bawang, small triangulo, El Diablo or rebentador, judas belt and kwitis.

The allowable pyrotechnic devices are sparklers, luces, fountain, jumbo regular and special, mabuhay, Roman candle, trompillo, airwolf, whistle device and butterfly.

The prohibited firecrackers and pyrotechnics, which contain more than the allowable  0.2 grams or 1/3 teaspoon explosive powder contents, are lolo thunder, super lolo, rambo, 50 caliber, pla-pla, camara, magic bomb, kwiton bomb, kwiton palitaw, kwiton parachute, kwiton 3-colors, giant whistle bomb, whistle bomb, among others.

The ordinance also prohibits the use of piccolo and watusi to children aged six years old and below.

A fine of P1,000 or imprisonment of not more than one month but not less than 20 days or both awaits the first offenders; a fine of P3,000 or an imprisonment of not more than three months but not less than one month or both fine for the second offenders; and, a fine of P5,000 or an imprisonment of not more than six months but not less than three months or both fine for third time offenders.

In cases of business establishments, the president, general manager, owners, proprietors or anybody acting on their behalf would be held liable for the violations. (MindaNews)