Quisumbing: Prohibition meant to prevent fires, injuries during holidays
For over 50 years, it has been a tradition of the family of Chinese businessman Siam Sy to explode long stripes of firecrackers every Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
They believed that the practice would bring them luck and drive away evil spirits.
But this may have to change this year.
Mandaue City Mayor Luigi Quisumbing has declared the entire city a “no firecracker zone,” which means that selling and lighting of firecrackers are prohibited in any of the city’s 27 barangays.
The mayor explained that the ban was intended to prevent accidents and fires triggered by firecrackers that were lighted by revelers during the holidays.
“We are aiming for zero firecracker-related injuries as we want all people to be safe and have a secure environment while celebrating Christmas and welcoming the New Year,” said Quisumbing in a press conference on Monday.
The mayor directed the local police to inform the Mandauehanons about the policy and to go after violators.
“We have personnel who will monitor each barangay. I appeal to the people of Mandaue to welcome this move because we are doing this for their own good,” said Quisumbing, who is serving his first term as mayor.
Mandaue is the first local government unit in Cebu that has imposed a firecracker ban which is also stiffer than the executive order (EO) issued by President Duterte in June 2017.
Under Executive Order No. 28, the use of firecrackers is confined to community fireworks display to minimize the risk of injuries or deaths.
In EO 28, President Duterte said fireworks display would be allowed if the municipality or city concerned issued a permit with specific date and time; and area in which the display will be conducted, in conformity with national standards, rules and regulations.
He also allows community fireworks display “on the occasion or as part of a celebration, competition, or similar event held in a venue other than a place of residence” and “under the supervision of a trained person duly licensed by the PNP (Philippine National Police).”
In Mandaue, selling of firecrackers has been prohibited since the December 2009 explosion at the designated “firecracker zone” in the Mandaue reclamation area that killed three people and injured six others.
But starting this month, the prohibition has expanded to the use of firecrackers that include super lolo, whistlebomb, baby rocket, bawang, small trianggulo, pulling of strings, paper caps, El Diablo, Judas’ belt, and sky rocket or kwitis.
Exempted are sparklers and similar devices such as luces, “fountain,” Roman candle, “trompillo,” “airwolf” and “butterfly.”
Chief Insp. Mercy Villaro, information officer of the Mandaue City Police Office, said persons caught using firecrackers would be charged with “alarm and scandal” which penalizes, among others, a “person who within any town or public place, shall discharge any firearm, rocket, firecracker, or other explosives calculated to cause alarm or danger.”
If found guilty, the accused would face imprisonment of up to 30 days or a fine not exceeding P200.
“Our policemen have the discretion to either call the attention of or arrest the person who uses firecrackers. It depends on the situation,” Villaro told Cebu Daily News.
Subangdaku Barangay Captain Ernie Manatad, president of the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) in Mandaue City, welcomed the decision of Quisumbing to prohibit the use of firecrackers.
He said he has been implementing the same measure in his village for five years now.
“Although there were still those who used firecracker, it was no longer as many as when there was no prohibition. This would really help decrease the number of firecracker-related injuries,” Manatad said.
Senior Supt. Roberto Alanas, director of the Mandaue City Police Office, said the number of firecracker-related injuries in the city has gone down from over 10 persons two years ago to just four persons in 2016.
Although the number has dwindled, Alanas said there were four fires in Mandaue City during New Year’s Eve last year — all believed to be caused by firecrackers or pyrotechnic devices.
Mandaue City Fire Marshall Josephus Alburo hoped that Quisumbing’s decision would help prevent fires during the holidays.
Since pyrotechnic devices were still allowed in Mandaue City, Alburo advised people to be responsible and careful in using them.
“We, however, have contingency plans in case of fire alarms,” he said.
Sy, for his part, has no choice but to follow the order of the mayor.
“Ila naman hinoon ta nga did-an nga mogamit man gyud ta og pabuto aron pag-abog sa malas ug pagsugat sa pagkatawo ni Hesus ug sa bag-ong tuig.
(They are preventing us from using firecrackers when it’s supposed to be done to ward off bad luck, and as a way to celebrate the birth of Jesus and welcome the New Year),” said Sy, who operates a convenience store in Barangay Ibabao-Estancia, Mandaue City.
“Pero wala ta’y mahimo ana. Motuman na lang ta. (But there’s nothing we can do about that. We can just have to follow the order),” added the 65-year-old businessman.