Smuggling, light punishments blamed for continued sale of Piccolo in PHL

Smuggling has been cited as one of the reasons why Piccolo, a banned firecracker manufactured in China, remained readily available for New Year revelers, including children, despite the yearly police crackdown on it. “Wala namang nagma-manufacture niyang Piccolo sa Pilipinas. Lahat iyan smuggled from China. Dumadaan 'yan sa main piers natin,” noted Director General Alan Purisima, head of the Philippine National Police (PNP), in a phone interview with GMA News Online. “The main problem is hindi nahaharang sa ating ports of entry,” Purisima added. Purisima said Piccolo—a match-like firecracker blamed for most New Year injuries over the past years—will not end up in the hands of Filipino users if the Bureau of Customs manages to intercept its entry in the country in the first place. GMA News Online was still trying to contact Customs Commissioner Rufino Biazon as of posting time to get his side on this matter. Light punishment Purisima, who as PNP head is tasked by law to approve licenses and business permits of firecracker manufacturers and sellers in the country, also said Filipinos are not deterred from selling and buying Piccolo since punishments for such acts are only “light.”

“Kapag nahuli ka, ang kulong six months to one year lang. Tapos ang multa, hanggang P30,000. Kaya itong mga nagtitinda, they are no longer concerned sa safety ng users. Mas mahalaga sa kanilang kumita,” he said.

The country’s primary law against firecrackers, Republic Act 71843, has been in effect for two decades now. It lists down pyrotechnic devices that are allowed in the Philippines and imposes penalties on illegal manufacture, sale, distribution and sale of firecrackers in the country.

Filipino culture

The Department of Health said 107 out of the 184 fireworks-related injuries recorded as of Monday afternoon were due to Piccolo. Most of them were children.

Purisima said the high number of Piccolo-related injuries can be attributed to the firecrackers’ seemingly innocent appearance.

“Hindi mo aakalaing dangerous siya kasi nga maliit lang at mukha naman talagang safe kung titingan. Kaya karamihan sa customers talaga nito, mga bata,” he said.

He added that while the PNP is trying its best to confiscate illegal firecrackers such as the piccolo, the country’s 148,000-strong police force can only cover limited areas.

“Ilan lang ba ang pulis natin? Do you think puwede naming bantayan lahat ng areas sa lahat ng oras?” he said.

Purisima also admitted that it is difficult for authorities to dissuade Filipinos from buying firecrackers because firecrackers are part of the culture in celebrating the New Year.

“Kultura na talaga natin ito. Tayong mga Pilipino, napakahilig nating magpaputok. Ayaw nating nanonood lang. We really don’t care much kung makakasakit iyan, or kung magkano ang gagastusin sa mga paputok na iyan,” he said.


Purisima further said that he will not tolerate reports that some policemen are themselves stealing and using confiscated illegal firecrackers.

“Iimbestigahan natin iyan. Kung mapatunayan na ginamit nga nila itong mga iligal na paputok na ito, they should be punished,” he said.

Senior Superintendent Neri Ilagan, deputy director for operations of the Quezon City Police District, admitted that some of his subordinates indeed tried to commit "pilferage" of confiscated firecrackers, but added that he has already reprimanded the policemen.

“It was more of a spur-of-the-moment incident. They took advantage while the firecrackers were being destroyed, but I reprimanded them on the spot,” Ilagan said in a separate phone interview.

“Pinagpapalo ko pa nga. Hindi tayo papayag sa ganoong behavior lalo na nandoon pa ang media. I don’t know kung ano ang naisipan nila, pero hindi natin hahayaan iyan,” he added. Purisima said that these erring policemen will still be sanctioned even if they already returned the illegal firecrackers. "Hindi naman dahil isinauli na, wala nang kasalanan. In the first place, dapat wala sila kahit intention to get those firecrackers kasi iligal nga iyong mga iyon," he said. — KBK, GMA News


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Sandigan OKs hospital stay for GMA co-accused
    Sandigan OKs hospital stay for GMA co-accused

    The Sandiganbayan has allowed a government official, accused with plunder along with former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to undergo a medical procedure at a hospital tomorrow. The anti-graft court permitted former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) board member Benigno Aguas to undergo a cardiopulmonary/endocrine clearance at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City. …

  • Sandigan recommends executive clemency for ex-envoy
    Sandigan recommends executive clemency for ex-envoy

    The Sandiganbayan has recommended executive clemency for a former Philippine ambassador to Nigeria who was sentenced to 52 years for malversation of public funds. The Sandiganbayan First Division found Masaranga Umpa guilty of misusing the Assistance-To-Nationals Stand-by Funds totaling $80,478.80 in 2007, but the anti-graft court said the former assemblyman from Lanao del Norte should be pardoned. …

  • Stargazing at the mall highlights Earth Hour
    Stargazing at the mall highlights Earth Hour

    It was a night of stargazing in 58 SM Supermalls all over the country last night as these establishments participated in Earth Hour, an annual worldwide movement encouraging communities and establishments to switch off lights for one hour to raise global awareness of overuse of non-renewable resources. The Philippines has been an active participant of Earth Hour since 2008. Last night, in the province of Bulacan, for instance, all parishes, diocesan institutions, schools and household …

  • Payanig privatization hit
    Payanig privatization hit

    BLEMP Commercial of the Philippines, Inc. (BLEMP) denounced the recent announcement of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to privatize the 18.4-hectare “Payanig sa Pasig” property. In a statement sent to The STAR, BLEMP lawyer Dennis Manalo said the PCGG has no right to auction the property because it has no valid title and is not in possession. The PCGG has not paid a single centavo in real property taxes for the property, he said. He narrated that it was in the early 70s …

  • New species of tarantula found
    New species of tarantula found

    Scientists from the Museum of Natural History (MNH) of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños have discovered a new species of cave-dwelling tarantula on an island off the coast of Quezon. The new species of the spider, Phlogiellus kwebaburdeos, was described in the recent issue of the Philippine Journal of Systematic Biology by MNH curators for spiders Aimee Lynn Dupo and Alberto Barrion along with their former student Joseph Rasalan. The tarantula was discovered by Rasalan during one …

  • Palm Sunday: Do not add to suffering of others
    Palm Sunday: Do not add to suffering of others

    As Christendom enters Holy Week today, Palm Sunday, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday called on the faithful not to add to the sufferings of their fellowmen. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs (ECPA), said that while Palm Sunday is oftentimes remembered as the glorious arrival of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, it also signals the start of the Holy Week that tells of His suffering, death and …

  • Miriam pushes tougher graft law
    Miriam pushes tougher graft law

    Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago has filed a bill that would make public officials liable for violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act even if they are elected to a fresh term or a new position. In filing Senate Bill 2716, Santiago sought to address what she said was the doctrine of condonation in Philippine jurisprudence brought about by the 2010 case of Salumbides vs. Ombudsman. “By merely asserting the doctrine of condonation, erring elective officials are automatically given a …

  • Phl hits back at China over sea infra work
    Phl hits back at China over sea infra work

    The Philippines assailed China yesterday for contesting Manila’s planned repair and maintenance works on some islands in the West Philippine Sea, saying they are “in no way comparable” to the Asian power’s massive reclamation activities which are in violation of international laws. “The Philippines’ possible undertaking of necessary maintenance and repairs on its existing facilities in the West Philippine Sea, over which the Philippines rightfully exercises sovereignty, sovereign rights and …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options