Philippine police mull total ban on firecrackers
MANILA PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome on Saturday said he was considering the proposal of a total ban on fireworks to put a stop to New Year injuries.
Speaking at a press conference at the East Avenue Medical Center Bartolome said that a law banning and not merely regulating the manufacture, distribution and use of fireworks would put a stop to injuries during the New Year revelry.
“It would be better to stop all together. When you regulate there will always be ways to dodge it. So it’s better if there’s none totally,”the PNP chief said. He revealed that it was not easy closing down stalls selling illegal fireworks, which the PNP recently intensified, ahead of the New Year.
Bartolome said that most of their operations were buybust operations as many of those selling the prohibited firecrackers hid them from plain view, tucked away in cabinets and containers.
Another issue that constantly worried the police was that many of those selling fireworks were not properly trained. Bartolome said that those selling fireworks should all undergo training as improper handling of the pyrotechnic devices was “risky.” He said that even in the disposal of unused firecrackers should be left to those trained, explaining that each police unit usually had a personnel trained to properly dispose fireworks.
More than 200 people have been injured by illegal firecrackers and celebratory gunfire in the Philippines despite a government scare campaign against reckless New Year revelries, officials said on Saturday. Stray bullets wounded eight people and 197 were injured by powerful firecrackers from December 21 to 30, Health Assistant Secretary Enrique Tayag said, adding that more than half of the victims were children. At least 14 had to undergo amputations, mostly of fingers, because of their injuries. Officials fear the number of injuries may rise as superstitious Filipinos bid goodbye to a year of natural disasters and economic uncertainty.
Many Filipinos, largely influenced by Chinese tradition, believe that noisy New Year’s celebrations drive away evil and misfortune. But they have carried that superstition to extremes, exploding huge firecrackers and firing guns to welcome the new year despite threats of arrest. One particularly huge triangular firecracker is labelled “Goodbye Philippines.”