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DoLE poised to allow reopening of pyro firms

Some firecrackers and pyrotechnics establishments may be allowed to resume their operation as early as this week if they pass the stringent workplace inspection conducted by the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE).

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has disclosed the deployment of 20 teams last Friday in Bulacan to start their nationwide inspection for the firecrackers industry.

An initial 10 establishments were inspected that day by DoLE’s Joint Assessment Team (JAT) composed of representatives from DoLE-Region 3, Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC), Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC), Philippine National Police (PNP) and local government units.

“By December 1, I may start issuing a lift order for those, establishments which will be able to comply with the necessary requirements,” said Bello.

Last Thursday, DoLE issued a work stoppage order for all establishments engaged in the production and retail of firecracker and pyrotechnics following last week’s explosion in a firecracker factory in Bulacan.

Bello said the affected firms could resume their operations once they secure the following requirements: PNP certification that the establishment is compliant to the requirements provided by Republic Act 7183 or the Firecrackers and Pyrotechnic Regulation Act; valid fire safety certification from the Bureau of Fire; all their employees has undergone a one day safety awareness training; and their work site has been visited by DoLE’s Joint Assessment Team.

Labor Undersecretary Domindor Say is also confident only a few will end up unemployed should DoLE start revoking permits of unscrupulous firms.

“They are considered seasonal (workers). During the other part of the year they have other work. (working in firecrackers and pyrotechnics industry) is just for additional income,” said Say.

Meantime at the House of Representatives, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez seems bent on imposing a nationwide ban on firecrackers.

“It’s high-time [to ban firecrackers]. Kasi andaming nadidisgrasya, sabog, may mga namatay, injured,” said Alvarez “Dapat tignan din yun hindi lang yung income. Kasi kung income naman, may mga ibang livelihood naman na pwedeng ipalit. Hindi lang naman kesa yun lang yung livelihood doon sa lugar.”

Alvarez said banning of firecrackers nationwide would contribute greatly in terms of minimizing expenses of public hospitals.

“Tignan mo rin yung aspect kung magkano yung inilalaan ng gobyerno taun-taon para to treat those injured. Not to mention yung mga namatay, mga nasirang building,” added Alvarez.

Despite this, Alvarez is skeptical about a nationwide firecracker ban being implemented within the year.

“Depende sa Committee…Hindi [this year], definitely,” said Alvarez.
(With a report from Ellson A. Quismorio) (SAMUEL MEDENILLA)