Traders seek gov’t help for safe ’crackers
MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan–Instead of “Iwas Paputok,” why not pursue “Ingat Paputok?”
Firecrackers and pyrotechnic manufacturers in Bulacan province, considered the fireworks and firecracker capital of the Philippines, are appealing to the government to ease the crackdown on their industry and instead help them promote the safe use of their products to avoid injuries or deaths during the New Year revelry.
Celso Cruz, president emeritus of the Philippine Pyrotechnic Manufacturers and Dealers Association Inc, said the Department of Health’s (DOH) “Iwas Paputok” campaign has not prevented injuries through the years and that the agency should reconsider its drive asking people not to patronize their products.
Reacting to reports that more local governments have banned the sale of firecrackers owing to the Iwas Paputok campaign, Cruz said: “They banned the sale, but is it true that they have zero usage of firecrackers in their areas?”
Cruz said that for the past five years, the number of firecracker victims has not dropped substantially despite the DOH’s zero-firecracker drive.
“Sadly, for the past five years, the number of firecracker-related injuries remained in the plus or minus 1,000. You have more than 90 million Filipinos and the number of injuries constitutes a very a small percentage,” he said.
Records from the DOH showed that firecracker-related injuries were 1,022 in 2010; 1,021 in 2011; 1,004 in 2012; 931 in 2013; and 1,018 this year.
Cruz urged the government to help people understand a classification system that the industry has enforced since 2012 and which would help parents determine the appropriate firecrackers and pyrotechnic products they could use in the company of their children.
He said they have been urging manufacturers to put these classification and safety guidelines on product labels.
Products labeled Class 1 are meant for indoor use, such as sparklers (luces), Cruz said.
Class 2 products require parental supervision because fireworks of this type, like the fountain, need to be ignited at least 5 meters away from people.
Class 3 firecrackers require revelers to be 25 meters away, such as the super jumbo fountain. Class 4 products are used in commercial fireworks displays but are not sold to ordinary customers because these require special handling by professionals and experts.
Despite the zero firecracker drive, Cruz said the government allows the production, sale and distribution of fireworks and firecrackers through Republic Act No. 7183 (An act regulating the sale, manufacture, distribution and use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices).
“The government must accept that coercing people to stop using firecrackers is not going to prevent injuries. Forcing people to stop would only encourage them to continue using firecrackers,” he said.
Joy Gomez, Bulacan provincial health officer, acknowledged that teaching people to distinguish between fireworks and more powerful firecrackers could help reduce injuries.
“We have been undertaking education campaigns but people still get hurt. Maybe we need stiffer penalties for people who sell unlicensed firecrackers, like piccolo,” she said.
Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado has ordered the printing and distribution of tarpaulin streamers bearing safety guidelines on firecracker use to support local manufacturers.
“We urge manufacturers to continuously improve the quality of their products so these can compete in quality, cost and safety against the aerial types of fireworks introduced here by Chinese manufacturers,” he said.
Senior Supt. Ferdinand Divina, Bulacan provincial police director, said the police have distributed leaflets on a safe and injury-free revelry to more than 500 stalls selling firecrackers and pyrotechnic products in Bocaue town to guide both buyers and vendors.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.