MANILA - Manufacturers warned on Friday that a nationwide firecracker ban could lead to more injuries as holiday revelers could shift to the black market.
Dozens are wounded every year from Christmas to New Year's Day due to improper handling of firecrackers. Deaths have also been reported. As of Dec. 30, 116 firecracker-related injuries have been recorded by authorities.
President Rodrigo Duterte had banned firecrackers in Davao City when he was mayor. There have been no similar moves so far to replicate it on a national scale.
"If you ban anything, then there will be an illegal enterprise that will come out... The injuries will become even worse," Philippine Fireworks Association President Joven Ong said.
"The ban on firecrackers in Davao is successful because people just go to the outskirts where firecrackers are allowed... But if you ban it nationwide, where will the people go?" Ong said.
Legal fireworks sellers that comply with standards set by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) should not be blamed for the injuries, Ong said.
The government should focus on "more rigid" quality control procedures for the industry instead of shutting down fireworks companies, he said.
Operations of 48 firecracker firms were briefly stopped after five people were killed in two separate separate factory fires from October.
According to data from the DOH, an average of five Filipinos die each year from firecracker-related injuries.