House panel tackles bills seeking to regulate firecracker use, sale

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 30 2016 12:26 AM

MANILA – The House of Representatives has started looking into several bills regulating firecrackers.

The Committee on Public Order and Safety started deliberations on House Bills (HB) 589, 1146, 1475, 1892, and 3690, which regulate the manufacture, sale, distribution, and use of firecrackers; and HBs 896 and 1626, banning the manufacture or use of firecrackers.

The proposed bills build on Republic Act 7183, which regulates the sale, manufacture, distribution, and use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices.

In her sponsorship speech, Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo underscored the need for the government to regulate the sale and use of firecrackers. The noise of firecrackers, she said, was allegedly used to cover up firefights during the government’s war on drugs.

“There are so many accidents with regard to pyrotechnics...we have seen many incidents where actual harm has been done to people responsible for fighting crime in the guise for noise that’s supposedly fireworks,” she said.

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano meanwhile reiterated President Rodrigo Duterte’s call to ban the use of firecrackers, as they “endanger the safety and security of children”. However, as there are areas such as in Bulacan that rely on the production of firecrackers for income, it will be best to regulate production, “considering the socio-cultural and economic implications”.

During the previous Congress, the public order and safety committee tasked a technical working group to study similar bills, Committee Chairman Romeo Acop said. A consolidated version was drafted, but was not ratified as the 16th Congress was drawing to a close.

It has also been 24 years since RA 7183 was passed, he said, and with Duterte’s directive for his Cabinet to draft an executive order regulating the use of firecrackers, “it becomes imperative on us members of congress to revisit RA 7183 to determine whether it needs to be strengthened…or if there are gaps in the enforcement of the law."

The Philippine National Police reiterated its commitment in the strict implementation of current laws, and said it welcomes any measures that will further strengthen existing regulations.

According to the Department of Health, there were 942 cases of injuries due to firecrackers in 2015, which is 8% higher than the number of cases in 2014, at 858.

From these injuries, 80% were blast injuries not requiring amputation, while less than 1% resulted in death.

However, in a position paper, Philippine Fireworks Association (PFA) President Jovenson Ong said that government should concentrate on the cause of firecracker injuries, which he blamed mostly on smuggled fireworks. Injuries, he said, are due to improper use and poor quality of fireworks.

Pyrotechnics, he said, also offer consumers a safe way to welcome the New Year and celebrate with family. 

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez meanwhile said it is high time to look into banning firecrackers, because it will help public hospitals cut down on costs during the holiday season, and also allow government to cut down on expenses for the prevention of firecracker-related damage to property.