No nationwide firecracker ban by New Year’s Eve

Camille Elemia
No nationwide firecracker ban by New Year’s Eve

EPA

Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo says industry groups have lobbied against the executive order, citing loss of profit and livelihood as reasons

MANILA, Philippines – There would be no nationwide firecracker ban by New Year’s Eve, as President Rodrigo Duterte decided to defer the signing of an executive order on it.

Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo said some industry groups have been lobbying against it, citing loss of profit and livelihood as reasons.

The Department of Health earlier submitted an EO to the President, seeking a shift from individual household use of firecrackers to a community fireworks display.

“I was not there during the meeting but I just learned there are just some groups that are saying that we also need to look at the industry side – the people that will be affected in terms of their livelihood,” Bayugo said in a Palace press briefing on Tuesday, December 27.

“Medyo late na daw ‘yung implementation kung isasagawa because there are already industries that have prepared and iyon malulugi din naman sila completely. So, parang nag-lobby na baka pwedeng i-delay muna,” Bayugo added.

(It’s a bit late to implement it because there are already industries that have prepared and they would incur losses. So, there are those who lobbied that maybe we should delay it.)

During the 2016 campaign, Duterte took pride in the absence of firecracker injuries in Davao and planned to replicate it nationwide. Duterte had banned the manufacture, sale, distribution, possession, or use of firecrackers or pyrotechnic devices in the city since 2002.

“In Davao, it was implemented for so many years because the industry can have other market to go to but when it’s a nationwide ban, it’s another thing, it’s a different thing,” Bayugo said.

“And there would be industries, and laborers that may be affected by this move. So, I think that the President was wise enough to consider that even if he is a very strong advocate of a total ban,” he added.

Duterte softened his stand in November, saying that it was already “too late” for an executive order by yearend. “Hindi na. Too late na…Nabili na nila mga materials. They all have invested. It would not be fair,” the President said in Davao City on November 24. (No more. Already too late. They already bought their materials. They all have invested. It would not be fair.)

Duterte then said he would just issue a warning to the public that using firecrackers is “dangerous.”

Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa on Tuesday said the same thing. He said Duterte told him that a longer period for public information is needed before implementing it.

“I tried to ask the President before, sabi nya ‘Baka hindi pa handa yung buong Pilipinas for that policy. Pag-aralan natin next year kung pwede.’ Mahaba haba yung time na information dissemination sa mga tao lalo na yung mga gumagawa ng firecrackers na hindi pa sila makabili from abroad,” Dela Rosa said.

(I tried to ask the President before, he said ‘Maybe the whole Philippines is not ready for that policy yet. Let us see if we could do it by next year.’ There is a longer time needed for information dissemination especially for firecrackers producers, before they buy materials from abroad.)

“Siguro this [coming] year kung talagang plano natin na implement firecracker ban nationwide maaga pa lang masabihan natin sila lahat para fair,” he added. (Maybe this coming year, if we really push through with the plan to implement firecracker ban nationwide, we should tell everyone ahead of time so it would be fair.)

Legislation better than EO

Before issuing an EO, Duterte said it would be better if Congress passes a law first.

“But I would like Congress to act on it first. And if they do not want it, well I will see if I can do it by executive order. Tutal naman ang ano diyan is the power of the President to come up with measures to protect public property, public interest, public safety,” Duterte earlier said.

But for Bayugo, legislation – although “a better tool” – takes a while to be passed. An EO, he said, would have been better in expediting the nationwide ban.

“But for the meantime, since legislation will take much time, much longer time, we believe that an Executive Order could have been a faster way of making our New Year’s safer for the Filipinos,” he said.

There have been 70 firecracker-related injuries recorded in the country as of December 27, according to Bayugo.

This year’s tally, he said, is “much, much lower than the figures” same period last year. – Rappler.com

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

author

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com