MANILA, Philippines – Since 2010, the UNTV has been deploying its News and Rescue teams across the country to respond to emergency situations such as firecracker-related cases in line with the celebration of the coming of the new year.
Aside from helping others in need, the station has been consistent in encouraging the public to refrain from purchasing and using firecrackers.
“Kasi may ibang mga lugar, pinagmamagaling pa nila na gumagastos sila ng let’s say something like US$200,000. Gagastos ka halimbawa ng US$100,000. Magkano na iyon sa peso?” noted UNTV’s CEO, Kuya Daniel Razon.
“Anong ibig sabihin? Maraming nagugutom. Maraming mga hindi kumakain. Maraming nao-ospital na walang pampagamot. Maraming nangangailangan na pampa-dialysis. Maraming mga nangangailangan na makikita mo sa kalye na wala silang anoman (na) pinaputok lang naman natin,” he added.
Kuya Daniel cited as an example the ordinance in Davao City which totally bans firecrackers and has yielded commendable results.
“Hindi ba sa Davao, may total ban sila diyan na ginagawa? Ang sa atin kasi dapat ang pagpapaputok ng firecrackers, dapat iyan ang nage-execute, kung may i-a-allow man halimbawa…Gusto nila magpa-install, magpalagay. Kung may i-a-allow man iyong may technical know-how na nagse-set up talaga. Hindi dapat i-allow ang nagpapaputok ka ng solo-solo o whatever. Hindi,” Kuya Daniel explained.
Several measures are now being pushed in Congress seeking to totally ban or impose stringent policies on the use of firecrackers on a nationwide scope.
These include the bill filed by Senator Nancy Binay which seeks to impose higher fines and imprisonment as punishments for selling firecrackers to minors.
Senate President Vicente Sotto II and Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, meanwhile, are pushing to require a special permit from the Philippine National Police (PNP) to those who wish to use firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices only at designated venues.
PNP Spokesperson Benigno Durana Jr, said the PNP is ready to impose new regulations on firecracker use provided that “majority of the stakeholders, after due consultations, would agree to it and it will become a law or policy.”
“We will abide and enforce it,” Durana said.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, for his part, said the Department of Health (DOH) is contemplating to recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte to impose a nationwide total ban on firecrackers in the country.
“The total ban is the way to go. If Davao City has exemplified total ban and therefore zero casualty, why can’t the whole Philippines do it under the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte who was once a long-time serving mayor of Davao City?” he said.
However, Duque said, such a plan needs a thorough study considering its possible impact on the country’s firecracker industry.
“Assuming the ban gets implemented or if legislation is forthcoming to absolutely ban this. We cannot be reckless. We have to be very clear: What will be the alternative livelihood programs for people who will be displaced because of the ban?” Duque argued.
But Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Malacañang still has several considerations to address that’s why it has not decided on whether or not to impose a nationwide total ban on firecrackers.
“Kasi marami ring involved. Maraming mawawalan ng trabaho. Binabalanse niya pero ayaw niya talaga ng firecracker,” Panelo said referring to the President.
“Marami ring natakot na huhulihin sila. Kasi nuon, hindi strict ang enforcement. Siempre iba na ang panahon ngayon,” Panelo concluded.
In 2017, President Duterte issued an executive order which regulates the use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices in the country. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)