January 4, 2012
Sen. Pia pushes bill to ban use of firecrackers by private individuals, minors
Senator Pia S. Cayetano is set to file a bill imposing stricter regulations on firecrackers and pyrotechnics, including prohibiting their use by private individuals, as she cited the hazards that these devices pose to human health, the environment and air transportation safety during the annual New Year revelry.
Cayetano, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, said her bill seeks to amend Republic Act No.7183, also known as 'An Act Regulating the Sale, Manufacture, Distribution and Use of Firecrackers and other Pyrotechnic Devices,' by allowing only local government unit-sponsored fireworks and pyrotechnic displays.
The bill also seeks to prevent the practice of some manufacturers who circumvent the law simply by renaming or re-branding their banned firecrackers. Aside from the list of banned firecrackers already enumerated under RA 7183, Cayetano's bill also proposes to set standards on maximum allowable amount of gunpowder as basis for banning certain types of firecrackers not necessarily included in the banned list as determined by DTI.
"It's time we put an end to this vicious cycle of unnecessary deaths and debilitating injuries that greet us every New Year caused by firecrackers and fireworks. What's really disheartening is that most of the victims of firecracker blasts every year are minors, including very young children," Cayetano lamented.
"Where else in the world do we hear news of firecracker fatalities and injuries during the New Year revelry but in the Philippines? Until when will we Filipinos allow this yearly carnage? Do we have to wait for a plane crash to happen due to the heavy smog caused by firecracker pollution before we come to our senses?"
Cayetano noted that as of the latest count of the Department of Health (DOH), the number of firecracker and stray bullet-related injuries has already reached 949. The figure could rise further as reports from DOH's 50 sentinel hospitals nationwide continue to come in.
She dismissed the claim made recently by an official of the Philippine Pyrotechnics Manufacturers and Dealers Association (PPMDA) that calls to ban firecrackers is an 'old tune' ('lumang tugtugin') that will likely fail. "Of course they will say that. They simply want to protect their business interests and keep their profit margins in the guise of preserving Filipino 'traditions.' But why would we continue to allow a tradition that is harmful to our people? It is high time that we regulate this practice."
"With government's political will and the understanding and cooperation of the public, we can change everything, including foolish habits and bad traditions. We need not look far to other countries for examples to emulate. The local government of Davao City has been enforcing a no-non sense firecracker ban and has been reporting zero-casualties while jailing violators in the last ten years. If Davao City can do it, why can't it be replicated throughout the country?"
She clarified that her proposal will not entirely do away with the tradition of welcoming the incoming year with fireworks. "There will be designated zones in various localities where people could view pyrotechnic displays which will be operated by experts and professionals authorized by the local government."
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