Illegal firecrackers, indiscriminate firing discouraged ahead of New Year celebration
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police on Tuesday warned Filipinos against illegal firecracker usage and indiscriminate firing of guns, a cultural tradition Filipinos are accustomed to, ahead of the celebration of New Year's Eve.
At the Laging Handa briefing Tuesday morning, Police Col. Roderick Alba, PNP spokesperson said that the national police will render security assistance and coordinate with the Department of the Interior and Local Government for the deployment of police officers at New Year festivities.
As it currently stands, Executive Order No. 28 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte bans individuals from using firecrackers or setting up their own fireworks displays during “events of personal, religious, cultural, and national importance,” especially during New Year’s Eve.
"What is forbidden is really forbidden. Don't insist on distributing or selling because it will be subject to confiscation, even to arrest," Alba said in Filipino. "We have so many ways to celebrate this New Year peacefully without hurting others using firecrackers."
Police Gen. Dionardo Carlos, PNP chief has already said that the national police intends to enforce the EO, which provides for the regulation on the usage of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices, "to the letter."
“The PNP is serving a fair warning to manufacturers and retailers not to engage in the distribution of illegal firecrackers, at the risk of confiscation and arrest,” Carlos said at the start of the month.
Local government units agreed to ban firecrackers last Christmas. As a result, the Department of Health reported an 85% dip in injuries linked to firecrackers after the holiday season.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año is also quoted in a report by GMA News Online as saying that the PNP and LGUs have the responsibility to enforce national and local policies on firecrackers to prevent injuries and fire incidents.
"The DILG will not tolerate the use of firearms in welcoming the new year. We will apply the full force of the law against those that will fire their firearms during the new year. Let’s welcome the new year with clean hands and clean hearts,” he said.
Speaking over GMA's Unang Balita, Fire Superintendent Annalee Carbajal-Atienza, spokesperson for the Bureau of Fire Protection, advised the public to watch fireworks displays from their local government units instead.
"Our firetrucks and firemen have been conducting patrols in barangays to make announcements and reminders regarding the use of firecrackers," she said in Filipino.
Earlier, environmental group EcoWaste Coalition also called for a nationwide ban on the sale and use of firecrackers amid the threat of the COVID-19 variant Omicron.
“Banning the production, importation, distribution, sale, and use of firecrackers will reduce the number of firecracker-related injuries, as well as reduce environmental pollution associated with the New Year revelry,” EcoWaste chemical safety campaigner Thony Dizon said.
“The enforcement of such a measure will also be crucial in light of the threat posed by the new Omicron COVID variant,” Dizon added as he urged Filipinos to opt for safer firecracker alternatives instead.
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia has since ordered a ban on the use of firecrackers and pyrotechnics in the province. — Franco Luna with reports from The STAR
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