BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan ordered elements of the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) to go all-out in the campaign to crackdown the illegal sale of firecrackers and pyrotechnics in the different parts of the Summer Capital to ensure the peaceful celebration of the Christmas and New Year revelry.
The local chief executive stood firm on his decision to totally ban the sale of firecrackers and pyrotechnic materials in the city for the second straight year in order for the local residents and visitors to explore other non-destructive and non-harmful ways to celebrate the Yuletide season.
He said reports have reached him that some vendors still try the guerilla-type of selling the banned firecrackers and pyrotechnics within the city’s central business district, thus, law enforcers must be alert at all times so that they can arrest those erring citizens selling the banned firecrackers and pyrotechnic materials.
“Our policemen should always be alert in responding to complaints of erring individuals trying to sell firecrackers and pyrotechnics inside our city market. They should enhance their intelligence network so that they can apprehend peddlers of firecrackers and pyrotechnics,” Domogan said.
Tough unpopular starting from the time the decision was imposed by the city government last year amidst the absence of an ordinance, Domogan has maintained the stand against the sale and use of firecrackers in the city due to the danger it poses to the public’s health and safety and to the improving state of the environment when celebrating Christmas and welcoming the New Year.
“We are grateful that nobody came to us to apply so they could sell firecrackers and pyrotechnic materials in time for the Christmas and New Year revelry. We want to keep it that way because we want to start somewhere in empowering our people to abandon the use of firecrackers and pyrotechnics for the Yuletide celebration,” Domogan stressed.
He claimed information reached him that some 20 firecrackers comprising the Baguio Paputok, Luces atbp group have sought refuge in the nearby town of Tuba, Benguet and asked the municipal government to allow them to sell within the jurisdiction of the municipality for a short period of time.
Prior to the implementation of the total ban on firecrackers and pyrotechnic materials last year, the vendors were encouraged to sell other goods that do not put health and environment at risk.
While the mayor could maintain the “no to the sale of firecrackers and pyrotechnics policy” by not issuing permits to applicants, Domogan said there is still a need for an ordinance to be passed by the council so that the city would have a basis in implementing the ban and aggressively apprehending violators.
He said there are other concerns and provisions that must be contained in the ordinance in order to add teeth to the policy similar to the policy being implemented in Davao City. Where the sale and use of firecrackers are considered criminal offenses.
Currently in effect in the city is a resolution banning the sale of firecrackers and regulating the sale of fireworks.
Health officials early this year disclosed a decrease in the number of firecracker-related injuries, particularly from December 21 2013 to January 2, 2014.
The agency attributed the decrease to the local government units, including Baguio city, which ordered a ban on the sale of firecrackers.
In the city, eleven individuals were injured due to firecrackers this year which is slightly lower compared to fifteen victims during the previous period.
The health department also noted a 38 percent decrease in the number of firecracker-related injuries in the Cordillera this year.
“We have noted a significant improvement in the reported firecracker-related injuries with the implementation of the ban on the sale of firecrackers and pyrotechnics so hopefully our people will cooperate with the continuing ban,” Domogan said.
The health department has been drumming support from local governments and for cooperation of the public to support the Oplan Iwas Paputok. By Dexter A. See