Chief PNP Police Director Gen Rodolfo Azurin Jr. with Bulacan Gov. Daniel Fernando, third from right inspect fireworks products in a stall in Bocaue before the weekend. With them are from right, Vice Gov. Alex Castro, Bocaue Mayor Eduardo Villanueva Jr, Bulacan Pyrotechnic Board President Joven Ong, Bocaue Vice Mayor Atty. Sherwin Tugna, Region 3 Police Director PBGen Cesar Pasiwen and other police officials. Photo by Anton Luis Catindig

BOCAUE, Bulacan—There is now a soaring prices of fireworks for at least double the original price and is expected to triple or even become four times higher during the last few days of sales before the new year due to low supply.  

Ding Dinglasan, owner of one of the stalls in Turo Pyrozone inspected by Gov. Daniel Fernando and Chief PNP Rodolfo Azurin before the weekend that the prices are now doubled and will continue to go up. The less and fewer display of stocks in his store, he said proves a scarcity in supply.

On Friday, a fireworks stall owner in Bocaue said the 16 shots of an aerial pyrotechnic (pailaw) which only costs P350 in the last three years or three for P1,000 is now worth P2,500 each.

The 100 pieces 1 bundle of kuwitis now which was only P350 –P500-P750 previously is now P850-P1,000 and the 1,000 rounds of sawa previously at P400-P600 is now also costs P1,000 and will go as high as P1,500 during the last two days sales, he said.

“Now, it is double to triple, but it will sky rocket up to four times higher at the last minute and it goes to all the products because of the domino effect,” the source said.

Minia Camlian, a dealer and stall owner in Binang 2nd MacArthur Highway in this fireworks capital of the country said kuwitis is now sold at P8.50 per piece or P850.00 per bundle (100 pieces) compare to only P275-P350-P750 in the previous years. The 1,000 rounds of sawa today is priced at P1,000, she said.

However, buyers from as far as Cavite, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Tarlac, Laguna, Mindoro and different parts of Metro Manila have started rushing to Bocaue for a minimum purchase of P10,000 to more than P100,000 a store attendant in Musang Fireworks disclosed. 

The same source who refused to be named divulged to Inquirer that a fellow local dealer had made a cartel of smuggled imported fireworks worth up to P300-million and is intended for the last minute skyrocket prices.

“This is a syndicated operation. This will kill the fireworks industry in Bulacan if it will not be stopped,” the source who refused not to be named said.

Joven Ong, president of Bulacan Pyrotechnic Board and manufacturer of Dragon Fireworks based in San Rafael town said that the low supply of products was due to the delay in the arrival and delivery of the chemicals they import abroad because of the pandemic.

The chemicals were not readily made available to them due to the tail of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ong said.

The chemicals were ordered in November last year but only arrived in March and April 2022, so the works stopped for several months wherein more products could have been manufactured.

“This is not only for the fireworks industry but all industries worldwide. When the pandemic hit, production of all products including raw materials slowed. This meant that when 2021 entered… factories worldwide got a rush of orders… This meant a jump in prices and logistics problems worldwide. So my orders of raw materials for November deliveries got delayed until March and April. This meant we could only produce fewer products given that we only had 8 to 9 months left to produce… so we had to play catch up,” Ong told NEWS CORE in a text message reply.

Lea Alapide, vice president of the Board and president of Philippine Pyrotechnic Manufacturers and Dealers Association (PPMDAI) said another cause of the higher prices this year and the lack of supply is the failure of new manufacturers to join the industry and to produce products because of the still in effect Memorandum Order No. 31 of former President Duterte in 2018 which suspends issuances of permits and licenses to new manufacturers pending inspection and inventory of all the permits and licenses issued and the compliance of the permittees’ compliance to the laws. Under the said memorandum, the police were not allowed to issue new permits and licenses to new manufacturers until they have made a full inventory of all the licenses and permits and checked if the manufacturers have complied with the laws.

Fernando, chairman of the Bulacan Pyrotechnic Board said  that a letter to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., is now being prepared by Alapide and his office requesting to lift the said memorandum.  

Engr. Celso Cruz, president emeritus of PPMDAI said that If there is already a full inventory and report by the Philippine National Police, it could already be recommended to President Marcos,” Cruz said also during the meeting.

Fernando expressed his full support to the fireworks industry and expressed hope for Azurin and the whole of the Philippine National Police to help and support the manufacturers, dealers and the public in ensuring a safe and sound usage of the fireworks products as the country traditionally welcomes the new year.

“Bulacan is almost Metro Manila. This is the center of the fireworks industry. Let us support our tradition of celebrating joyously while we observe full safety through discipline so that we could attain zero fireworks related incidents,’ Azurin said.

“Every year wala na sanang madisgrasya o bumaba na ng bumaba ang records ng mga nabibiktima ng paputok, kailangan po nating maging disiplinado”.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Edwin Tecson said that based on their record, fireworks related injuries continue to decrease from 106 in 2020 to 60 in 2021. During the previous years, the incidents were at 130-150 and more.