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Ban firecrackers

The fire that struck a row of fireworks stores on MacArthur Highway in Barangay Biniang 1st, Bocaue, Bulacan last week is a wake-up call for the government to issue a total ban on firecrackers.

Two persons were reported killed, 24 injured, 10 vehicles burned and almost 40 establishments and houses destroyed.

Authorities placed the damage at P20 million.

Most of the stores in Barangay Biniang 1st are supposedly licensed and have complied with the safety training seminars required by the PNP-Civil Security Group before being issued licenses and permits to sell, said the Philippine Pyrotechnics Manufacturers and Dealers Association Inc. The stores have been selling pyrotechnics for more than three decades.

This only proves that being licensed, having gone through training seminars, and being long in the business is no guarantee that glitches will not happen.

In a couple of months, people will again welcome the new year which, by tradition, is incomplete without the usual noise of firecrackers.

President Duterte succeeded in imposing a smoking ban and outlawing the use of firecrackers in Davao City, which he promised to apply nationwide. The President should now fulfill his campaign promise to ban firecracker use to keep the Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations safe.

Firing Line agrees that firecrackers should be totally prohibited. Fireworks displays, on the other hand, may be allowed in public parks or in the middle of a river.

Disallow its use in front of houses or on the street which can lead to accidents, trigger fires or the loss of a finger, a limb, or even one’s life. Inhaling its smoke is likewise bad for the health, especially for people suffering from asthma or other respiratory illnesses.

And without the “boom” and “bang” from firecrackers to drown out all other sounds in the area, it will be easier to identify the person who fires a gun even at the height of the revelry.

Make sure that no firecrackers from other countries are smuggled through our ports. They are a lot cheaper compared with the pyrotechnics made in Bulacan and the competition can drive some local factories to produce firecrackers that are cheap yet unsafe.

Licensed factories in Bulacan may be allowed to produce pyrotechnics.

If we want a noisy New Year’s celebration, be content in banging pots, pans and the blowing of horns. Safety is our priority.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at http://www.tempo.com.ph/category/opinion/firing-line/ (Robert B. Roque, Jr.)