DILG: Zero firecracker injuries so far

The Department of the Interior and Local Government said that no firecracker-related injuries have been reported so far and urge the public to go for zero injuries this holiday season in line with the Bureau of Fire Protection’s (BFP) “Oplan Paalala: Iwas Paputok.”

“It is the tradition of Filipinos to usher in the New Year with fireworks as families indulge in their media noche [New Year’s Eve feast]. However, the pandemic and the new normal entails adjustments to ensure everyone is safe at home together,” said DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya.

“Disiplina muna para ligtas ang pamilya, ligtas ang bayan. Ito po ang ating regalo’t ambag para iwas peligro at mapayapang pagsalubong ng bagong taon,” he said.

He said that on top of the battle against the pandemic, it is also the Department’s goal this year to go for zero firecracker-related injuries this year. BFP F/SInsp Bayani D. Zambrano said that any form of firework display will be prohibited.

The only exception is the conduct of community fireworks display in designated areas set by the local government units (LGUs) which will be the only places where fireworks are allowed to be lit.

“Meron po tayong ‘Oplan Paalala: Iwas Paputok 2020’ campaign kung saan ipinagbabawal ang paggamit ng paputok upang maiwasan ang pagkasunog ng kabahayan at ng ibang pang establisimyento,” said Zambrano “Patuloy po tayong gumagawa ng information campaign bawat barangay pinapasok natin ‘yan.

Umiikot ang mga bumbero natin upang ipaalala sa komunidad na dapat po tayong umiwas sa mga bagay na nagsasanhi ng sunog,” he added.

Malaya said that the zero casualty target is attainable because there were only four (4) fire-cracker related incidents reported from December 31 to January 1 of this year, a significant drop from previous years.

He said that based on data provided from the PNP, 307 firecracker-related incidents nationwide were recorded in January 2019 which is 67 percent lower than the 929 recorded incidents in 2016. In 2018, there were 449 incidents while in 2017, there were 652.

“There has been a steady decline for the past three years and we can sustain that trend if we remain persistent with our efforts to implement laws and regulations on the use of firecrackers such as Republic Act 7183 and Executive Order No. 28,” he said.

The DILG has issued Memorandum Circular 2017-105, implementing EO 28 which enjoins the LGUs, the PNP, and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to take necessary actions on the regulation and control of the use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices nationwide.

Under its provisions, the PNP is also tasked to beef up its force to provide security in identified firecrackers and pyrotechnic zones and firecracker/pyrotechnic displays in respective areas in coordination with appropriate agencies and stakeholders.

Police units are also expected to conduct inspections of the manufacturing complex, warehouse, and processing area of manufacturers and dealers in their respective areas of responsibility to ensure the observance of safety guidelines.

“The PNP is authorized to immediately confiscate illegal firecrackers and make arrests when necessary so the industry is advised to just follow the law,” says Malaya.

Among the prohibited fireworks are: Piccolo, Watusi, Giant Whistle Bomb, Giant Bawang, Large Judas Belt, Super Lolo, Lolo Thunder, Atomic Bomb, Atomic Bomb Triangulo, Pillbox, Boga, Kwiton, Goodbye Earth, Goodbye Bading, Hello Columbia, and Goodbye Philippines.

Malaya said that the decrease of firework-related injuries during the last three years attests that Filipinos can still celebrate the holidays without compromising tradition.

The DILG has also directed the BFP to intensify its Oplan Paalala/Iwas Paputok Campaign with the battlecry “Sa Halip na Paputok, Pito!” which encourages the public to use the whistle during the New Year revelry instead of firecrackers.

The DILG also urges the BFP to be strict in issuing fire safety clearance for fireworks display and fireworks exhibition to ensure that there will be no untoward incidents during such exhibitions.

In 2017, Duterte signed EO No. 28 that limited the use of firecrackers. Firecracker-related incidents have seen a downturn since the issuance of the EO.