Authorities: Limit firecracker use to designated areas

THE public is urged to blow horns (torotot) and bang pots and pans to usher in the New Year instead of setting off firecrackers.

Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management officials warned against the use of firecrackers inside private properties or on roads since these should only be set off in designated areas, as mandated by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

In barangays where there are no designated areas, City Councilor Phillip Zafra, member of the disaster risk reduction management committee, said the use of firecrackers will be prohibited.

Violators will be penalized based on provisions of Republic Act 7183, or An Act Regulating The Sale, Manufacture, Distribution And Use Of Firecrackers And Other Pyrotechnic Devices.

Section 11 says, “Any person who manufactures, sells, distributes or uses firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices in violation of the provisions of this Act shall be punished by a fine of not less than P20,000 nor more than P30,000, or imprisonment of not less than six months nor more than one year, or both, at the discretion of the court in addition to the cancellation of his license and business permit and the confiscation by the Government of his inventory or stock.”

The memorandum also directs barangay captains to designate areas where the public can set off firecrackers. These must be wide open spaces.

President Rodrigo Duterte issued an executive order (EO) regulating the use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices.

The EO authorized the Philippine National Police to determine what constitutes prohibited firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices.

Among those banned are Piccolo/Scratch Bangers, Pop Pop, Goodbye Philippines/Crying Bading, Yolanda/Goodbye Napoles, Watusi/Dancing Firecrackers, Pla-pla, Giant Kuwitis, Super Lolo, Atomic Big Trianggulo/Atomic Triangle, Mother Rocket and Lolo Thunder.

With 2020 just hours away, vendors at the Cebu Firecrackers Market at the South Road Properties (SRP) in Cebu City expect brisk business on Tuesday, December 31, 2019. They admitted that their sales had been affected by the arrival of typhoon Ursula in the leadup to Christmas Eve.

According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), the public can expect good weather Tuesday night.

Ernie Cardillo, a stall owner at the firecrackers market, said prices of firecrackers have skyrocketed, especially since their supplier permit in Lapu-Lapu City was delayed.

They’re also not selling illegal firecrackers, he said.

Vendors at the market expect to sell off their inventory Tuesday.

The cheapest firecracker is Kwitis, which sells for P5 a piece. A Fountain, a Roman Candle and a Mercury cost P25 each, while a box of Sprinklers sells for P100. The most expensive Fountain at the market is P750.

The cheapest firework sells for P500, while the most expensive one costs P20,000.

The Cebu Firecrackers Market is located near SM Seaside City and Kasadya sa SRP.

Pernoria Tan, another stall owner, said the location is much safer since it is closer to the shore. In case of a fire, they can quickly get water from the sea to douse the flames, she said.

A customer who asked not to be named said his choices will depend on affordability since his budget for firecrackers and fireworks this year is P7,000, compared to P20,000 in 2018.

He said people buy firecrackers to drive away bad luck in the upcoming year.

Personnel from the Mambaling Police Station have been deployed at the market to monitor the safety and security of vendors and customers.

Meanwhile, two stalls were ordered closed after 300 boxes of firecrackers were discovered during a surprise inspection by the Regional Civil Security Unit (RCSU) on Monday, December 30.

The 13 different kinds of illegal firecrackers were worth more than P200,000.

Major Gregorio Nitura, assistant Regional Civil Security Unit (RCSU) chief, said they considered items not manufactured in the country as illegal.

He said they also made sure the vendors had the permits to sell and complied with rules and regulations as well as safety measures.

In Mandaue City, the Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO) and the Mandaue City Fire Station (MCFS) also conducted a joint inspection of stores selling pyrotechnics to check if these have permits.

In the course of their inspection, Fire Inspector Kyle Lauzon, deputy fire marshal, discovered that the stores did not have enough water in reserve to use if a fire breaks out.

Lauzon said they require stores to have one barrel of water, but the vendors had only a pail of water.

“The pail of water is not enough to address an accident,” he said in Cebuano.

They also checked to ensure that all the items for sale were placed inside glass display cabinets, he said.

In a separate interview, MCPO Director Colonel Jonathan Abella said they are intensifying their crackdown on illegal firecrackers, adding that he already tasked police stations to conduct foot and roving patrols and motor stops and to confiscate contraband items.

Mandaue City is a “no firecracker zone,” which means it doesn’t allow the selling of firecrackers, except for pyrotechnic devices.

“On Tuesday, we will do our best to make apprehensions. The problem is when Mandaue residents buy their firecrackers in Cebu City,” Abella said in Cebuano.

However, the police official said they will only admonish individuals who they’ll catch carrying firecrackers.

The MCPO and the MCFS are on red alert as the city prepares to usher in the new year.

Mayor Jonas Cortes, for his part, encouraged residents to support local enforcement agencies in their campaign against setting off firecrackers to prevent accidents.

“Hopefully, the public will cooperate so we can prevent people from getting hurt. So it’s best that they avoid firecrackers altogether,” Cortes said in Cebuano. (JJL, JCT, KFD)