Despite the personal inspection by Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima of firecracker and pyrotechnics manufacturers in Bulacan, sales of illegal and oversized firecrackers continue to boom.
“It is all for show, and good for nothing,” remarked Celso Cruz of the Philippine Pyrotechnics Manufacturers and Dealers Association Inc., (PPMDAI).
Cruz said that at this time of year, everything has been set in motion, including the sale of illegal pyrotechnics products in preparation for the New Year revelry.
What is not set is the full implementation of the 21-year-old law that is supposed to be implemented by the PNP, he said.
Cruz said the PNP chief should not have visited Bocaue yesterday. The town of Bocaue is dubbed the firecracker capital of the country.
Cruz said Purisima should have ordered his men to just do their job well, beginning with the full implementation of Republic Act 7183 or the Act Regulating Sale, Manufacture, Distribution, and Use of Firecrackers and other Pyrotechnics Devices.
Cruz pointed out the implementation of the law should start with issuance of license to manufacturers of firecrackers. He said this was hardly followed.
Cruz said that once a manufacturer is issued a license, they could purchase raw materials and chemicals that are all controlled substances like nitrates, potassium and sulfur.
This is followed by the actual processing and manufacturing which, Cruz said, is hardly monitored by the PNP.
He also lamented the PNP’s Firearms and Explosive Unit (FEU) does not have a database on how much chemicals a manufacturer has purchased and how much they manufactured.
“It is a very sad fact, the PNP is the administrator of the law and the one enforcing it, but what they are doing is less than to be desired on behalf of the industry,” Cruz said.
The result of this loose implementation of RA 7183, Cruz said, has led to the decline of the firecracker industry that the PNP is supposed to protect and regulate.
He explained that RA 7183 legalized the manufacture of pyrotechnic products to provide livelihood and to regulate the industry to improve product quality.
However, 21 years after the law was approved, the industry is in decline, Cruz said.
“The sad state of the industry lies in the fact that in Bocaue alone, 50 percent of pyrotechnics products are imported masquerading as locally manufactured, 30 percent are illegally manufactured and only 20 percent are legal and locally made,” he said.
Part of the problem is the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) product standard licensing that only takes into consideration finished products but turns a blind eye on the manufacturer’s processing and manufacturing facilities.
“That’s the reason why it is suggested when we are revising the IRR (implementing rules and regulations) that the PNP and DTI must require every manufacturer to present samples of their products before the issuance of the license,” he said.
With regards to the emergence of oversized products like “Goodbye Napoles,” “Super Yolanda,” “Pacquiao” and others, Cruz said the problem lies with the fact that their sales are tolerated by the local police.
“Manufacture of pyrotechnics products takes a while, and if only police will conduct regular monitoring in every barangay in Bulacan, we will never have oversized and destructive products like Napoles and Yolanda,” he said.
Before the Yuletide season began, Cruz said he suggested to police regional director Chief Superintendent Raul Petrasanta to issue a strict policy order to all police chiefs in Central Luzon to seize all oversized and illegal pyrotechnics products.
Cruz, however, said he doesn’t know if Petrasanta heeded his advice.
He also said that while the PNP-FEU is serving as clearing house of all raw materials for the manufacture of pyrotechnics devices, the police unit must be headed by a person familiar with the firecracker industry. –Dino Balabo
(First published by the Philippine Star (www.philstar.com) on Sunday, December 29, 2013 under the title "Mirriam wants firecracker ban in residential areas". )