Firecracker ‘ban’ violators will face closure, warns Dole

THE work stoppage order (WSO) imposed on manufacturers and retailers of pyrotechnics and firecrackers is still in effect, thus violators will face corresponding sanctions, including closure of establishments.

The Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) in Negros Island Region (NIR) issued this warning Thursday (December 8), following reports that the manufacture and sale of pyrotechnics and firecrackers, particularly in Hinigaran town, will continue amid the existing order.

Mary Agnes Capigon, technical support services division chief of Dole-NIR, said Thursday that no manufacturers and retailers in the province can resume their operations unless there is an order from the agency’s central office lifting the WSO.

Capigon added that they will submit a recommendation for the lifting, provided establishments are found to be compliant with the guidelines set by Dole especially on occupational safety and health standards.

“In the event that an establishment is violating, we can immediately ask assistance from the Philippine National Police for its closure,” Capigon said, adding that the agency, through its Labor Laws Compliance Officers (LLCOs), has yet to complete the compliance assessment before it can recommend, or not, the lifting of WSO in the province.

Earlier, Hinigaran Mayor Jose Nadie Arceo said that firecracker operations in their town will continue as they cannot afford to permanently stop the town’s major industry, or else, many residents will lose their livelihood.

“The total stoppage on the manufacture and sale of pyrotechnics and firecrackers in the whole country is questionable,” the mayor said.

For Hinigaran, the order has no legal basis as all manufacturers and retailers in the town have secured necessary permits and licenses, and there were no incidents that could be used as grounds for stopping their operations, he added.

Dole-NIR, however, pointed out that the occupational safety and health standards are non-negotiable, and the WSO can always be lifted subject to certain conditions.

Last November 24, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III issued the WSO, following the recent explosions in fireworks shops in Bulacan that killed five people and injured 30 others.

The order mandates the stoppage of work of any unit, department or entire operation of an establishment when non-compliance with occupational safety and health standards poses imminent danger to the health and safety of the employees in the workplace.

“We cannot compromise the occupational safety and health standards, or else properties and lives of the workers as well as the whole community will be put at risk,” Capigon said.

In this instance, “the mayor should be responsible as his move should be coordinated with other agencies involved,” she added.

Prior to the lifting of the WSO, Dole-NIR will conduct strict monitoring in the province, especially in Hinigaran, Capigon said.

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