More last minute illegal cracker manufacture, more last minute arrests

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BOCAUE, Bulacan—Last minute manufacture of illegal firecrackers in welcoming the new year continues despite relentless calls and warnings made by the authorities.

Joel Castro, 39 was arrested by the police at around 3:30 pm in his house in Sitio Bihunan, Barangay Biñang 1st on Saturday. 

With no license to produce firecrackers and pyrotechnics, Castro was caught in the act making illegal firecrackers Atomic Bomb and Plapla. 

Seized from him were 1 pack unfinished Atomic Bomb (90 pcs), 1 tray of Crying Cow (30 pcs), 1 sack Plapla (150 pcs) and other firecracker materials worth around 7,500.00. Crying Cow however, is not a prohibited firecracker product. 

PNP Chief PGen Benjamin Acorda Jr. (right) with Bulacan Governor Daneil Fernando and Bocaue Vice Mayor Sherwin Tugna gave a thumbs up on the fireworks products being sold in a stall in the cracker capital Bocaue town during inspection on Friday, barely two days before welcoming the new year. Photo by Anton Luis Catindig

On Friday in Barangay Pulong Buhangin, Sta. Maria town seized from a 31 year old unlicensed maker were 200 pieces of ‘kwitis’, 40 pieces of unfinished ‘fountain’, 30 pieces of cylinder ‘fountain’, 100 pieces of unfinished ‘kwitis’, and 1/4 gallon of unfinished ‘sawa’ worth P10,000. 

On Dec. 23, the police seized 2 large pieces of Judas Belt, 4 packs of Kabasi, (10 pieces each pack), 4 packs of Plapla (10 pieces each pack), 10 pieces of KIngkong and other paraphernalias used in the manufacture of firecracker from a 38 year old fly-by-night maker in Sitio Bihunan, Barangay Binang 1st in this town.

Chief PNP PGen Benjamin Acorda Jr., earlier warned manufacturers, dealers and the public of the production, sales and use of prohibited firecrackers when he inspected fireworks stalls in this fireworks capital of the country on Friday. 

Axorda assured the industry and the public of the police responsibility in ensuring their safety, security and protection during an inspection in fireworks stalls in Turo Pyro Zone area.

Gov. Daniel Fernando, chairman of Bulacan Provincial Pyrotechnic Board has earlier ordered all barangay captains in the manufacturing towns of Sta. Maria, Bocaue, Baliwag, San Ildefonso, San Rafael and other towns to inspect all residential areas for possible backyard manufacture of illegal fireworks products. 

He said the recent cases of explosions in Bulacan were in the manufacture of prohibited fireworks. 

Acorda and Fernando, Vice Gov. Alexis Castro joined by Police Region 3 Director PBGen Jose Hidalgo Jr. and Bulacan police director Col. Relly Arnedo showed the media the samples of prohibited firecrackers under RA 7183, the laws on manufacture, sales and distribution of firecracker and pyrotechnics such as Watusi, Piccolo, big Five Star, Plapla, Lolo Thunder, Giant Whistle Bomb, Atomic Bomb, Atomic Triangle, large size Judas Belt, Goodbye Delima, Hello Columbia, Goodbye Napoles, Super Yolanda, Mother Rockets, Kwiton, Super Lolo, Goodbye Bading, Goodbye Philippines, Bin Laden. Coke-in-Can, Pillbox and Kabasi.

Bulacan police on its most recent anti-illegal firecracker operations on Friday in Barangay Pulong Buhangin, Sta. Maria town seized from a 31 year old unlicensed maker 200 pieces of ‘kwitis’, 40 pieces of unfinished ‘fountain’, 30 pieces of cylinder ‘fountain’, 100 pieces of unfinished ‘kwitis’, and 1/4 gallon of unfinished ‘sawa’ worth P10,000. 

On Dec. 23, the police seized 2 large pieces of Judas Belt, 4 packs of Kabasi, (10 pieces each pack), 4 packs of Plapla (10 pieces each pack), 10 pieces of KIngkong and other paraphernalias used in the manufacture of firecracker from a 38 year old fly-by-night maker in Sitio Bihunan, Barangay Binang 1st in this town.

Arnedo said charges of violation to R.A. 7183, the laws on manufacture, sales and distribution of fireworks, had been filed against the arrested.

Lea Alapide, president of Philippine Pyrotechnic Manufacturers and Dealers Inc. (PPMDAI) said all firecrackers which are overweight or oversized or more than what is prescribed under RA 7183, which is more than 0.2 grams or more than 1/3tespoon in explosive chemical content, are prohibited.

Also not allowed to be sold are all imported finished firecracker and pyrotechnic products that contain fuel and oxidizing agent; including all unlabelled locally-made products; firecrackers with mixture of phosphorous and/or sulfur with that of chlorates including “Boga,” a household improvised cracker using huge water plastic pipe that produced a huge bang.    

Alapide also said that manufacture, sales and distribution of fireworks products by any unlicensed manufacturers are also strictly not allowed under RA 7183 including fireworks that are transported without “Permit to Transport” to any manufacturer or dealer and persons transporting more than 1,000 kilograms of finished products. However, the proof of purchase shall be sufficient from the registered dealer or manufacturer if the finished products to be transported are less than 1,000 kilograms, Section 6, Rule III, of the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 7183 states.

According to Acorda, Bocaue, is the epitome of new year celebration because of its fireworks heritage, history, artistry and craftsmanship and being the fireworks mecca of the Philippines and its is the duty of the police to ensure the safety of every stakeholder while also nurturing our cultural tradition. “The law here is to protect this industry while ensuring safety and security of the people, the buying and using public,” Arcoda told the media. 

“There are those who lose their lives because of these. We need this inspection. We want to make sure buyers and sellers will be safe. Ang PNP ay nandito, Tagapangalaga ng kasiyahan at kaligtasan ng lahat ,” he added.

According to the Chief PNP, he once personally moonlighted as a fireworks seller during his college days in Mapua Institute before going home to his place in Northern Luzon. He said, having a public nurse mother, he also has personal encounters with victims of fireworks explosion who came to their house for treatment during new year revelry as hospitals and clinics were already closed. 

Acorda however expressed elation the current statistics showed a low figure on fireworks explosion incidents. 

Fernando recognized the work and efforts of the police in going after illegal manufacturers and dealers because their actions protect the thousands of people dependent for livelihood on the fireworks industry as legal manufacturers.

He had also sent a communication to Lazada and Shopee not to allow and accommodate sales of illegal fireworks. 

Fernando also called on private gun handler and owners not to fire their guns during new year celebration. “Nakikiusap ako sa ating mga private gun handlers and owners na huwag kayong magpaputok ng baril, mahalaga ang buhay ng tao, hindi ninyo alam kung ano at sino ang tatamaan ninyo,” he said. 

Acorda said he will not order all the policemen this year to cover the muzzle of their firearms to  encourage self-discipline and accountability to show to the Filipino people that they themselves are the first line of obedient citizens. 

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