By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

PNP-LGU COOPERATION. Philippine National Police chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. (2nd from right) and Governor Daniel Fernando (right) lead the inspection of fireworks stalls at the Santiago Compound in Barangay Turo, Bocaue, Bulacan on Friday (Dec. 29, 2023). Acorda said the active support of local government units and fireworks manufacturers is crucial to the success of the PNP’s intensified campaign against illegal firecrackers. (PNA photo by Robert Oswald P. Alfiler)

MANILA – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. on Friday highlighted the active support of local government units and fireworks manufacturers in the intensified campaign against illegal firecrackers, following an inspection of fireworks stalls at the Santiago Compound in Barangay Turo, Bocaue, Bulacan.

“I am happy with the inspection that we just did. Wala naman tayong nakitang mga illegal na binibenta (We did not see any illegal firecrackers being sold) and in fact, with the support ‘yung mga mismong manufacturers, sila mismo ang nag cooperate in ensuring ‘yung pagsunod sa provisions of the law (of the manufacturers themselves, they cooperated in ensuring that the provisions of the law are followed). And also, we are happy with the very active support of our LGUs (local government units),” Acorda told reporters.

Acorda, who was accompanied by Bulacan Governor Daniel R. Fernando, Vice Gov. Alex Castro and Bocaue Vice Mayor Sherwin Tugna during the inspection, said the support of local government officials and manufacturers was crucial in the success of the PNP’s intensified operations against the manufacture and sale of illegal firecrackers.

He said their support is also key to minimizing the number of firecracker-related injuries.

The PNP has so far recorded 149 incidents related to the use of firecrackers and fireworks ahead of the New Year’s Day celebration.

As of December 29, the PNP said two persons were killed while 107 others were wounded due to firecrackers. The fatalities were victims of the explosion of firecrackers inside a delivery truck parked at a terminal in Marikina City on Dec. 17.

Of the 149 fireworks-related incidents, 36 were illegal possession/use/sale of firecrackers which resulted in the arrest of 12 individuals.

The PNP said it has confiscated illegal fireworks with a total estimated cost of PHP224,130 which includes Piccolo, Pop-pop, Five Star, Pla-pla, Giant Bawang, Judas Belt, Boga, Kwiton, Sawa, Roman Candle, and Kingkong, among others.

Acorda said the number of firecracker-related injuries for 2023 is significantly lower than in 2021 and 2022 when 284 and 197 incidents, respectively, were recorded.

The PNP also recorded seven cases of illegal discharge of firearms which resulted in injury to one person.

In 2021, 25 incidents of illegal discharge of firearms were recorded which injured one person, while 26 were recorded in 2022 which hurt 19 persons.

For his part, Fernando said the provincial government is in close coordination with several online shopping applications to stop the sale of illegal firecrackers which put at risk the safety of the public.

He said he also directed the provincial police force to conduct inspections in residential houses in Bocaue and nearby areas as a preventive measure against the manufacture of illegal fireworks and firecrackers.

Fernando said he also stands for the protection and continuous advancement of the pyrotechnics industry in the country which, if used correctly, will have benefits.

“Thousands of workers depend on this industry to provide for their families so please, let us hear them out. Kasabay po nito ang ating pagsusulong ng madisplina at maingat na paggamit ng legitimate at quality firecrackers na bahagi ng ating pagdiriwang ng Bagong Taon (This goes with our advancement of discipline and careful use of legitimate and quality firecrackers which are part of our celebration of New Year),” the governor said.  

Brig. Gen. Lyndon Mencio, chief of the Firearms Explosive Office-Civil Security Group of the PNP, also confirmed in a press conference that their operatives, together with those from the Bulacan Provincial Police Office, recently confiscated more than 5,000 boxes of imported finished pyrotechnic devices.

He added that necessary charges were filed against those involved in the illegal importation while the confiscated products were properly disposed of as witnessed by pyrotechnics stakeholders, local officials and members of the media. 

Meanwhile, Philippine Fireworks Association president Jovenson Ong expressed full support for the government’s intensified campaign against illegal fireworks manufacturers.

Kung gusto natin talagang masawata ito, i-trace natin ang source or ‘yung mga nagbebenta ng kemikal na ginagamit ng mga illegal na nagmamanufacture ng mga paputok (If we want to stop the manufacture of illegal firecrackers, the source of the chemicals being used by illegal manufacturers should be traced),” he said.

Ong also appealed to the government not to totally prohibit the manufacture and sale of fireworks, noting that it serves as the main source of livelihood for many residents of Bocaue. (PNA)