By Chito Chavez
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) vowed to crack the whip on erring barangay chairmen who are unable to control or purposely allow the sale of firecrackers in their respective jurisdiction.
DILG Undersecretary for Barangay Operations Martin Diño warned that “barangay officials will be subjected to suspensions with the timeframe depending on the gravity of the offense’’.
He clarified that the DILG will file the appropriate charges against the erring barangay chairmen before the Office of the Ombudsman “where it is up to the agency to determine if three months, six months, one year or dismissal’’ will be meted against the guilty parties.
“Mas malala ang violation natural mas mahaba and suspension (It is just natural to impose longer suspension periods to much graver violations),’’ Diño said.
Diño urged the public to report to his office complaints of any irregularity committed by the barangay chairmen or any of his men “including violations on the sale, distribution and use of even the regulated firecrackers’’.
“I will assure that legitimate complaints will be acted upon by the DILG. For the complainant’s safety their identities will not be revealed,’’ Diño said.
“Even during New Year’s Eve, the days leading to the New Year and the New Year Day itself DILG roving teams at the city, municipal and provincial level will be deployed to run after firecracker violators,’’ he added.
In explaining the active participation of the barangay, Diño noted the task of enforcing the law regarding illegal fireworks use and sale has already been delegated to the barangay which complements the law-enforcing duties of the police.
Even with the lawful sale of regulated firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices, Diño warned that barangay officials may still face stiff sanctions if these are displayed or used in nondesignated firework areas of the barangay.
Since the barangay chairman is tasked to identify the designated fireworks display areas, Diño warned them they will still be held liable if other places of their jurisdiction are used for the same purpose.
The DILG official reminded that it is against the law to sell even legal fireworks in their houses or sidewalks without the necessary permits from the local government units (LGUs) and other agencies.
“I will not hesitate to zero in on barangay chairmen or other barangay personnel engaged in the selling of illegal fireworks. I have been a barangay captain for 13 years so I have my sources. This is not a warning but a promise. My men and I will be up on our toes and will be working even during the New Year celebration,’’ Diño said.
Even with the regulated fireworks and pyrotechnic devices, Diño said anew that only sellers with permits are allowed to ply the trade at designated fireworks vending areas.
Although it has been a “long-time tradition”, Diño asked the public to see the “flipside’’ of the ban and recall in mind the number of firework-related injuries and deaths every New Year.
Commending President Duterte for his political will to regulate fireworks sale, Diño said the use of fireworks display is even banned during other celebrations like “birthdays and fiestas.”.
He admitted that the DILG is faced with the Herculean task of totally enforcing the firecracker law due to the lack of manpower and the public’s stubbornness to avoid the use of the banned fireworks.
“Little by little and eventually I am confident that the move to regulate the sale of firecrackers will be accepted by the public whole heartedly,’’ Diño said.
Also police authorities said fireworks distributors need to secure the license to deal firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices from the Civil Security Group of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to legalize their operation.
Recently, the Philippine National Police (PNP) released a list of the firecrackers the public can legally use during the New Year revelry.
Chief Supt. Valeriano De Leon, PNP Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) director said
fireworks with more than 0.2 grams or 1/3 teaspoon of gunpowder are prohibited.
He also noted that firecrackers without labels and those containing sulfur or phosphorus mixed with chlorates are also banned.
De Leon disclosed that oversized fireworks with short fuses that could detonate in less than three seconds but not more than six seconds are also prohibited.
He said the list of legal fireworks /pyrotechnic devices includes baby rocket, bawang, el diablo, judas’ belt, paper caps, pulling of strings, sky rocket (kwitis), small triangulo, butterfly, fountain, jumbo, regular, and special luces, mabuhay, roman candle, sparklers, trompillo and whistle devices.
The banned firecrackers/pyrotechnics are watusi, piccolo, super lolo, atomic triangle, large judas belt, large bawang, pillbox, boga, goodbye Philippines, Bin Laden, mother rockets, lolo thunder, coke-in-can, kwitom, atomic bomb, five star pla-pla, giant whistle bomb, kabasi and other unlabeled imported firecrackers.
The PNP issued the list to inform the public of the illegal fireworks and pyrotechnic devices which they should not use or buy.
Diño warned the public to list down of the banned explosives and never purchase and use them to ensure their safety.
President Duterte in June 2017 signed Executive Order 28 limiting the use of pyrotechnics to community fireworks displays to lessen the chances of firework-related injuries.
Some 191 firecracker-related injuries were recorded during the 2017 holiday season, which is a dramatic decrease from the 630 cases recorded in the 2016.