MANILA, Philippines–As the nation bade farewell to 2012, more than 100 persons so far had been arrested for selling, transporting and using prohibited firecrackers in separate police operations Monday, according to the Philippine National Police (PNP).
A day after President Aquino ordered an intensified crackdown on illegal firecrackers, PNP Director General Alan Purisima said the police responded by shutting down 65 establishments caught in violation of Republic Act No. 7183, the law regulating the manufacture, distribution, sale and use of firecrackers.
Purisima said police carried out inspections of 3,120 stalls and factories making and selling firecrackers and other pyrotechnics nationwide.
“I have ordered police commanders to closely monitor all establishments in their jurisdictions to ensure that no prohibited firecrackers will be sold and used before, during and after the New Year’s eve celebrations,” Purisima said.
The PNP chief said 80 persons had been arrested for violation of RA No. 7183 nationwide as of 7 a.m.
A separate report from the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) said 113 individuals had been arrested in 228 police operations in the metropolis alone.
Director Leonardo Espina, NCRPO chief, said nine persons were arrested for the indiscriminate firing of guns.
He said almost 700 boxes of piccolos, a banned firecracker that has caused the most number of injuries among children, were confiscated in Metro Manila.
Purisima also sought the public’s assistance in going after manufacturers, traders and users of powerful and illegal firecrackers.
He said the public may call PNP hotline 117 or 0917-8475757 to report the sale or use of prohibited firecrackers.
He also ordered an investigation of policemen caught in a video lighting firecrackers in Quezon City.
“We will place under investigation even the direct (superiors) of these PNP personnel,” Purisima said.
In Laguna, the police on Monday destroyed illegal firecrackers confiscated from manufacturers and users in the province.
The firecrackers were piccolos, goodbye earth and goodbye Philippines varieties which the government has banned, according to Senior Supt. Pascual Muñoz, Laguna police director.
Muñoz said most of the firecrackers were seized from warehouses in Sta. Cruz and San Pedro towns and were valued at P1 million.
“Some of the manufacturers had licenses (to operate) but they were manufacturing the illegal ones,” said Senior Insp. Vicente Cabatingan of the Special Police Task Group that led the crackdown.
In Maasin City, Southern Leyte, local Muslim traders notched lower pyrotechnic sales figures as the police strictly implemented the ban on illegal firecrackers.
“We are expecting lower sales this year because some items have been banned, particularly those that are in demand,” said a trader who identified himself only as Kokoy.
The Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Health had banned the manufacture and sale of firecrackers such as the piccolo, judas belt, pillbox, big bawang, goodbye earth and goodbye Philippines, among others.
RA No. 7183 mandates that persons caught manufacturing, selling, distributing or buying these items face imprisonment of six months to one year and a fine of P20,000 to P30,000. With reports from Maricar Cinco, Inquirer Southern Luzon, and Jani Arnaiz, Inquirer Visayas