No letup in police drive against illegal firecrackersBy Noli A. Ermitanio |Philippine Daily Inquirer
More than P50,000 worth of illegal firecrackers were destroyed just a few hours before the New Year by authorities at the Southern Police District (SPD) headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.
At 1 p.m. Monday, members of the SPD Explosives and Ordnance Division burned dozens of “piccolo,” “pop pop,” “sawa,” “five-star,” “whistle bomb” and “Pacquiao ultraman.” But in the process, they blanketed the vicinity of the SPD grandstand in thick, suffocating smoke.
SPD director Chief Supt. Benito C. Estipona, meanwhile, hailed as a success the police district’s campaign against illegal firecrackers.
“Our policemen have been vigorous in [conducting] the anti-illegal firecrackers campaign. We expect to arrest [fewer vendors as a result],” he said.
According to Estipona, his men arrested 14 people who were caught selling the banned pyrotechnic materials while they closed down five stalls—four in Las Piñas and one in Muntinlupa City—after their owners were caught operating without the required permit.
District Operations and Plans Chief Supt. Victor Loares said that since Dec. 29, the SPD, in cooperation with local officials, has conducted 30 operations in its illegal fireworks campaign—seven in Muntinlupa, six each in Taguig and Las Piñas, five in Pateros, four in Pasay and one each in Makati and Parañaque.
Meanwhile, members of the Baclaran-based Pasay Police Community Precinct 6 conducted their own operation against illegal fireworks vendors on Dec. 30 on Roxas Boulevard.
The banned items seized included “five-star” firecrackers, “whistling moon travelers” and “watusi.”
Insp. Jolly Castro Soriano, who led the operation, said that they have been conducting round-the-clock patrols since the third week of the month.
He added that they have also called on vendors selling illegal firecrackers, through the heads of their associations, to switch to other legitimate businesses.
“It would be a waste if we caught them doing that—not only will we arrest them, we will also destroy their goods,” Soriano said.
According to Soriano, the Pasay police have organized teams composed of eight
policemen each to conduct the operations.
Even members of the Special Weapons and Tactics unit and Special Branch teams have been tapped in the drive.
For the police, their efforts to go after illegal firecrackers vendors have been so far successful. “The number of sellers has been drastically reduced, especially in areas like Rotonda in Roxas Boulevard, where they can be usually seen every New Year’s Eve,” Soriano said.
Under Republic Act No. 7183, which regulates the sale, manufacture, distribution and use of firecrackers, pyrotechnics that contain more than 0.2 grams of explosive ingredients, ignite in less than three seconds or before the count of six and carry no manufacturer’s label are prohibited. Violators may be imprisoned for up to six months and fined P20,000.