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PNP warns vs online sale of firecrackers


MANILA, Philippines —  People should think twice before selling firecrackers online as they can end up in jail even if the items they are selling are allowed by the government, according to the Philippine National Police.

The PNP yesterday reminded the public that selling even legal firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices through online platforms is prohibited.

“Those who will be caught distributing and selling prohibited firecrackers, even those allowed by the government, and other pyrotechnic devices but without the necessary permit shall be held liable,” PNP public information officer Col. Jean Fajardo said in a news briefing at Camp Crame.

Fajardo added that apart from facing complaints for violation of Republic Act 7183, the law that regulates the sale, manufacture, distribution and use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices, those who are caught could also face charges for violating RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

The PNP official said they are expecting a spike in the sale of firecrackers through online platforms, noting that only few LGUs have so far declared a firecracker ban.

Two persons were recently arrested by operatives of the Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) in Caloocan City for selling firecrackers online.

Sabino Medenilla, 19, was arrested on Dec. 19, and Rodel Constantino, 39, was collared on Dec. 21.

The suspects negotiated with ACG operatives posing as buyers for firecrackers.

Col. Jay Guillermo, who heads the ACG’s cyber response unit, said the suspects have one thing in common: they did not obtain permits to sell firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices from the PNP, concerned government agencies and the local government of Caloocan.

The ACG official urged people to buy fireworks from legitimate manufacturers, distributors and retailers as he warned that criminals might take advantage of firecrackers being sold on online platforms.

The PNP has confiscated around 35,000 prohibited firecrackers valued at P192,000 in law enforcement operations nationwide.

75 injured

The number of fireworks-related injuries (FWRIs) nationwide has ballooned to 75 as the Department of Health (DOH) recorded an additional 23 cases in a 24-hour span.

As of yesterday morning, the DOH had recorded a total of 75 FWRIs, most of which occurred at home and were caused by illegal fireworks.

The age of the 23 new cases ranges from six to 55 years and most are males.

The bulk of the 75 cases or 40 percent came from the National Capital Region (NCR), followed by Central Luzon with 9.12 percent and Ilocos region with 6.8 percent.

“All these new cases occurred at home and on the streets,” the DOH said.

Based on the agency’s data, 96 percent of the total FWRIs happened at home and on the streets. Illegal fireworks account for six out of 10 cases.

Among the two new cases, DOH said, two required amputations, as both involved the illegal pla-pla lit by teenagers who lost their fingers.

The DOH has recorded a total of six amputations as a result of the FWRIs.

“Fireworks are not toys. They may be nice to see, but are deadly,” it said.

The agency reminded parents not to allow their children to play with firecrackers. Older children must set an example to their younger siblings not to play with firecrackers.

Amid these developments, a 12-year-old boy was injured due to a firecracker explosion in Barangay Cayambanan in Urdaneta City, Pangasinan on Tuesday afternoon.

Reports reaching the PNP-Pangasinan provincial office said the boy, a grade 7 student, sustained injuries on his body.

Initial investigation said the victim was playing with fireworks when he picked up a one-star firecracker that did not ignite and suddenly exploded.

The injured victim was rushed by his parents to the Urdaneta District Hospital for medical attention and was discharged after treatment.

Patrolling elements of the Dagupan City PNP confiscated more than 100 firecrackers worth almost P1,000 in Barangay I early Tuesday night.

Reports said the confiscated firecrackers were seen on display along the sidewalk, which is not a designated firecracker zone, and reportedly had no corresponding permits.

The confiscated items have been placed under police custody.

Community safety

Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos has directed local government units (LGUs) to strictly implement ordinances that ban the use of harmful firecrackers in time for the New Year festivities.

Abalos said local chief executives should ensure the safety of communities and try to lessen or eliminate pyrotechnics-related injuries during celebrations.

“Let’s ensure that these ordinances are strictly implemented. Let’s put a fang on these ordinances against dangerous firecrackers,” he said in Filipino.

At least 1,210 LGUs nationwide have ordinances banning the use of harmful firecrackers already in place in their respective localities, according to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Included in the list of prohibited firecrackers are five star, pla-pla, piccolo, Goodbye Philippines, Goodbye Bading, giant bawang, watusi, atomic triangle, sinturon ni Hudas (Judas’ belt), Super Yolanda, super lolo and Coke-in-Can, among others.

Recently, 35 local governments passed their own ordinances that ban firecrackers following Abalos’ call.

All 17 LGUs in Metro Manila have passed firecracker ban ordinances.

The DILG chief said local officials should implement the ban down to the grassroots level to ensure safe and injury-free celebrations for their constituents.

“These policies have no use if we don’t implement them in barangays,” he added.

Prevention

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) of Bulacan will deploy its personnel, ambulance and firetruck in Bocaue town starting today as part of its accident prevention measures in selling firework products for the New Year’s Day celebration.

This was confirmed to The STAR by retired Col. Manuel Lukban Jr., Bulacan PDRRMO officer.

Bocaue is widely acknowledged as the fireworks capital of the Philippines, where rows of fireworks stalls can be found along Governor Halili Avenue and along MacArthur Highway.

Besides the fire truck and ambulance, Lukban said constant roving inspections would be conducted on all fireworks stores in the province.

He added that Gov. Daniel Fernando has given directives to the Bulacan police and barangay officials to “prohibit and arrest those illegally manufacturing firecrackers.” –  Mayen Jaymalin, Cesar Ramirez, Romina Cabrera, Ramon Efren Lazaro

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