MEMBERS of the Anti-Illegal Firecracker Task Force have burned Thursday confiscated illegal and over-sized firecrackers and pyrotechnics from dealers and retailers in Cagayan de Oro City.

The ceremonial burning at the Rotunda of Kagay-an Bridge in Barangay Nazareth was the second this week, following a crackdown on illegal noisemakers.

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City Mayor Constantino Jaraula and other members of the task force praised the task force in initiating the move to prevent illegal firecrackers.

The task force conducted a round-up on dealers and retailers of firecrackers and pyrotechnics along J.R. Borja-Corrales Streets, Divisoria, Cogon Market and Carmen areas, said Emil Rana, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) City director.

The DILG sits as the chair of the task force along with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). 

On Tuesday, the task force already burned down P100,000 worth of illegal firecrackers and pyrotechnics that were seized since their round-up on December 21.

The burning is part of the government’s implementation of Republic Act 7183, which aims to regulate the sale, manufacture, distribution and use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices.

Emiliano Galban Jr., information officer of the Department of Health (DOH), said the campaign also hopes to lower down cases of injuries related to firecrackers and pyrotechnics. 

“Using firecrackers and pyrotechnics are part of the Filipinos’ tradition of welcoming the New Year but we should follow the DOH’s guidelines to avoid greeting the New Year with injury or amputated hands,” Galban said. 

The DOH has been promoting its Fourmula Kontra Paputok or four clear guidelines since 2004: 1) don’t use firecrackers, instead use torotot and other safe ways; 2) don’t pick up firecrackers, which did not explode; 3) wash wound with soup and water and go to nearest health center, and; 4) don’t fire guns.

At least seven individuals, since December 24, were treated at the government-run Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) for injuries related to firecrackers, with piccolo as the common cause of the recorded injuries. 

Under R.A. 7183, among the firecrackers allowed to be manufactured and sold include baby rocket, bawang, small triangle, pulling of strings, paper caps, El Diablo, Judah’s belt and sky rocket (kwitis) while the pyrotechnics allowed include sparklers, luces, fountain, jumbo regular and special, mabuhay, Roman candle, tropillo, airwolf, whistle device and butterfly. 

Atomic big triangulo, super lolo and their equivalent with high explosive content are considered illegal, police said. (Terry D.C.



New Year revelry peaceful: Police

Firecrackers, stray bullets hurt 600 people nationwide

The traditional riotous New Year's Eve revelry had been generally peaceful in Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental, police and officials said, despite the tragic death of mother and son in Gingoog City after fire razed their family-owned pyrotechnics store.

Acting City Police Director Antonio Montalba said the number of people who welcomed the New Year with traditional firecrackers dropped to at least 50 percent compared to previous year. This has contributed, he said, to the decrease in the number of reported firecracker accidental explosions in the city.

Initial reports said at least six people were injured in firecracker-related accidents in Cagayan de Oro. However, the total tally of firecracker injuries in the city has yet to be know Sunday when all monitored cases are scheduled to be collated, said Emiliano Galban Jr. of the Department of Health (DOH) in Northern Mindanao.

In Misamis Oriental, Vice Governor Norris Babiera said the New Year merrymaking ended “peacefully,” noting that hospitals have reported no firecracker-related injury as of Saturdya.

“Over-all, our assessment is that we had a peaceful New Year and Christmas celebrations. No major criminalities were recorded,” Gov. Babiera said.

However, the Capitol official expressed grief over the death of Jocelyn Guibone and her son, Joros, of Gingoog City, who were burnt to death when a still-unidentified man tested a firecracker inside their firecracker store.

Jocelyn was able to initially escape the inferno, but rushed back into the flames to save her son, who was sleeping in the store when the incident happened, said Police Inspector Harvey Sanchez of the Gingoog City police.

In Zamboanga City, another two revelers were killed and five others injured when a footbridge collapsed as they converged to watch a pyrotechnics show minutes before midnight, police said.

Elsewhere in the Philippines, another 571 people were injured by firecrackers and 26 by stray bullets, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.

"Thirty-six cases, or six percent, had blast burn injuries (that needed) amputation" of mangled fingers or limbs, Duque told a news conference.

He said this year's New Year's Eve injuries were less than 2009, when 683 people were wounded by firecrackers and 17 by stray bullets

He said the lower firecracker-related injuries may be attributed to the government's "scare tactics".

These included television advertisements that showed gruesome images of severely mangled limbs and a tray of surgical instruments used in the amputation of a limb.