By: M. A. De los Santos and Louine Hope Conserva
BARANGAYS can designate their respective firecracker zones where they can hold community fireworks display, according to lawyer Ferdinand Panes, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Iloilo City director.
“In the DILG guidelines, the barangays can designate their own firecracker zone in coordination with the city government,” Panes said.
But Panes said barangays must comply with the fire safety requirements set by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and the police.
“According to the Liga ng Barangay, the barangays shall request for inspection from the BFP to check if their proposed firecracker zones qualify to be firecracker zones,” he said.
In the absence of barangay firecracker zones, he cited Mayor Jose Espinosa’s Executive Order No 153 designating the 7 district plazas as firecracker zones in the metro.
Only in these areas can New Year revelers light their firecrackers otherwise they’d be apprehended by the police.
However, pyrotechnic devices (those that emit light and do not explode) can be lighted even outside the firecracker zones.
Firecracker zones are required in President Duterte’s EO 28, which regulates the use of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices.
If barangays can’t secure permit, Panes opined, “At least, malayo sa disgrasya ang pumuluyo sa barangay, at least may common area na lang kita – ang plaza nga ginabantayan pa ina sang mga kapulisan, BFP, kag iban pa nga agencies of government. Ang PSTMO (Public Safety and Transportation Management Office) ara man magabantay, secure sila kun sa mga plaza.”
The public is only allowed to light their firecrackers on New Year’s Eve (Dec 31 2017 to Jan 1, 2018) in 7 district plazas designated as firecracker zones in the metro: Plaza Libertad in City Proper, Lapaz, Lapuz, Jaro, Molo, Arevalo, and Mandurriao.
BFP-Iloilo City is set to deploy fire trucks to every firecracker zone.
Jeck Conlu, PSTMO head, said 4 teams comprised of 18 persons will be deployed to monitor the 7 firecracker zones. PSTMO’s teams will augment the teams of BFP, PNP and barangay patrols and other fire brigade volunteers that will secure the firecracker zones.
To ensure public safety against fires this New Year, the BFP stepped up public information campaign through “Oplan Paalala Iwas Paputok”.
The agency tapped all means to disseminate information on how to safely welcome the New Year.
The fire department also heightened inspections of business establishments, pyrotechnic/firecrackers factories, places of assembly and residential compounds identified as high risk for fire and emergencies esp. informal settlers/shanties.
On the other hand, the Police Regional Office-6 aims for zero indiscriminate firing, zero stray bullet incidents, and zero firecracker-related injuries.
The public can report cases of indiscriminate firing and other safety concerns by calling PRO-6 numbers 0999-995-5072 and 0999-558-7914, or they can send a message to Police Regional Office 6’s Facebook Page.
Meanwhile, Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. said he wants a total ban on firecrackers, not just regulation and control.
Still, Defensor said he supports the executive order issued by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte which confines the use of firecrackers to community fireworks display areas to avoid injuries and casualties.
“Kumporme ako sina. Ang gusto ko gani ya wala gid sang lupok,” he said.
Defensor cited the country of Switzerland where all pyrotechnic devices that explode on the ground are banned.
“They are still able to celebrate merrily even without fireworks,” the governor said.
Defensor said the use of firecrackers to shun evil spirits in the New Year is only a superstition practiced by the Chinese.
The Department of Health (DOH-6) has recorded 10 persons injured by Christmas firecrackers as of Dec 26, 2017.
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