MANILA – Banned firecrackers shipped from China have been seized by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) at the Manila International Container Port.
BOC said the illegal products came in two shipments had been declared by the importer as tissue paper.
BOC discovered the firecrackers, which included a repackaged version of the “piccolo” and “pop pop,” after a recent inspection following derogatory information from the Bureau’s Intelligence Group.
Both firecrackers are illegal and prohibited from being sold and distributed nationwide.
“We have reason to believe that at least five other shipments we placed under Alert Orders all contain smuggled firecrackers. However, these shipments have yet to be subjected to 100 percent physical inspection under strict safety conditions at the port. What is worse is that the packaging of the firecrackers seized say these are made in Bulacan and even have text in Filipino,” said Customs Deputy Commissioner Jessie Dellosa.
“Let this be a warning to the public and to the local pyrotechnics industry that smugglers may be using legitimate manufacturers to sell illegal firecrackers,” he added.
The shipments arrived from China in October 10, 2014 and were consigned to Stellent Corporation.
However, Stellent Corp. denied ownership of the shipments, saying it will not object or take action against the seizure “for the reason that we are in good faith and have no objection to obstruct laws, regulation prescribed by the constitution.”
Its president, Charmayne Angeles, executed an affidavit disclaiming the cargo to clear the company’s name from “any malicious, unjust and misguided ideas, that we owned the said shipment.”
The BOC Intelligence Group said it is investigating how Stellent's name could have been used to file the import entries.
Under Republic Act 7183, or the Anti-Firecrackers Law, the sale, manufacture, distribution and use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnics are prohibited for the prevention of injuries, death, and damage to properties caused by firecrackers.
The law bans about 20 firecrackers with explosive content at over 0.2 grams, the legal limit for all types of pyrotechnics.
These include piccolo, pop pop, Goodbye Philippines or Crying Bading, Yolanda or Goodbye Napoles, Watusi, pla-pla, giant kuwitis, Watusi or "dancing firecrackers", Super Lolo, Atomic Big Trianggulo, Mother Rockets, Lolo Thunder, Pillbox, Boga, Big Judah's Belt, Big Bawang, Kwiton, Bin Laden, Kabasi, Atomic Bomb, Five Star, Og, and Giant Whistle Bomb.
Using these illegal firecrackers come with penalties that range from six months to a year's imprisonment or a possible fine of up to P20,000.
As of December 27, the Department of Health-National Epidemiology Center already recorded 113 firecracker-related injuries nationwide, 39 of which involved children less than 10 years old.
Sixteen cases involved eye injuries, while six required amputation, mostly caused by the “piccolo.”