MANILA, Philippines—The explosive punch of every “Goodbye, Philippines” or “Super Lolo” is strong enough for them to be categorized as high explosives and developed into indigenous military projectiles, according to Sen. Gregorio Honasan who reflects on Filipinos’ fondness for fiery, fatalistic and some say, even mindless New Year’s revelry.
Honasan, a former Army colonel and chair of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, took responsibility, on Saturday, for the lack of action on two bills that would have imposed stiffer firecracker control.
“What’s glaring here is the level of our firecrackers. They’re in the category already of high explosives. The level of destruction and damage is amazing,” Honasan told the Inquirer.
“If we want to be imaginative… if we can push this as a component of our self-reliance program maybe we can develop—even [if] primitive—surface-to-surface missiles and surface-to-air missiles, with the kind of explosives we are using now,” added the senator, an advocate for a local weapons industry.
Honasan, nonetheless, expressed concern over the annual statistics of firecracker-related injuries both in the days leading to the New Year and during the actual New Year’s Eve celebration.
He offered no excuse for the inaction on the pending bills that could have somehow decreased the dangers posed by the firecrackers on Filipinos every year.
“I will have to admit some responsibility for that as the current chairman of the Senate committee on public order because of the workload and other priority bills that I also had pending in my committees. It really seems that these [firecracker control bills] weren’t really given attention,” Honasan said.
“We cannot ignore anymore the statistics related to injuries. So I accept full responsibility,” he added.
There are two firecracker control bills pending in Honasan’s committee.
One, authored by Sen. Manuel Villar, increases the penalty on illegal firecracker trade to a jail term of as long as 12 years and fines of up to P1 million.
The other, by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, totally bans firecrackers in residential areas and designates a public firecracker area in every barangay.
“What we’ll try to do is consolidate all these proposals and ordinances,” Honasan said.
He said some local government units already have ordinances banning firecrackers.
With only a few session days in before the close of the 15th Congress, Honasan vowed to push for a stronger firecracker control law in time for the next New Year’s Eve “if we are able to go back in 2013.”
Honasan is a re-electionist, running under the United Nationalist Alliance.
Asked what bills were prioritized by the committee during the past few years, Honasan said the committee passed the upgrading of the country’s fire code and the removal of the height requirement for prospective police officers.
Honasan is also the chair of the Senate committee on public information that shepherded the People’s Ownership of Government Information Bill. The chamber has already passed the Pogi Bill—the Senate’s version of the Freedom of Information Bill—on third and final reading.