Thursday, December 29, 2011

BIG BANG THEORY (The Law on the Sale, Manufacture, Distribution and Use Of Firecrackers and Other Pyrotechnic Devices)

By Siesta-friendly

Well, the only way to prevent being lit up yourself is to stop using fireworks in the first place. People from other countries leave the fireworks to experts, why can’t we?   Anyway, if you must play with fireworks (and we’ll never understand why), the law on the matter is Republic Act No. 7183 (An Act Regulating the Sale, Manufacture, Distribution and Use OfFirecrackers and Other Pyrotechnic Devices).[1] 

Allowed Firecrackers and Pyrotechnics

Initially, under Sec. 2. of RA 7183, the following common types of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices may be manufactured, sold, distributed and used: 

  1. Firecrackers:
(1)   Baby rocket — A firecracker with a stick so constructed that lighting of the wick will propel the whole thing to lift a few meters before exploding. The firecracker is about 1½ inches in length by 3/8 inch in diameter while the stick is about a foot in length; 
(2) Bawang — A firecracker larger than a triangulo with 1/3 teaspoon of powder packed in cardboard tied around with abaca strings and wrapped in shape of garlic; 
(3)  Small triangulo — A firecracker shaped like a triangle with powder content less than the bawang and usually wrapped in brown paper measuring ¾ inch length in its longest side; 
(4)   Pulling of strings — A firecracker consisting of a small tube about an inch in length and less than ¼ of an inch in diameter with strings on each end. Pulling both strings will cause the firecracker to explode; 
(5)   Paper caps — Minute amount of black powder spread in either small strips of paper on a small sheet used for children's toy guns; 
(6)   El diablo — Firecrackers tubular in shape about 1¼ inches in length and less than ¼ inch in diameter with a wick; also known as labintador; 
(7)   Watusi — Usually reddish in color about 1 ½ inches in length and 1/10 inch in width usually ignited by friction to produce a dancing movement and a crackling sound; 
(8)   Judah's belt — A string of firecrackers consisting of either diablos or small triangulos that can number up to a hundred or thereabout and culminating in large firecracker usually a bawang;
(9)   Sky rocket (kwitis) — A large version of a baby rocket designed to be propelled to a height of 40 to 50 feet before exploding; 
(10)  Other types equivalent to the foregoing in explosive content. 

  1. Pyrotechnic Devices: 
(1)   Sparklers — Pyrotechnic devices usually made of black powder on a piece of wire or inside a paper tube designed to light up and glow after igniting; 
(2)   Luces — Any of several kinds of sparklers; 
(3)   Fountain — A kind of sparkler conical in shape which is lighted on the ground and designed to provide various rising colors and intermittent lights upon being ignited; 
(4)   Jumbo regular and special — A kind of sparkler similar to a "fountain" but bigger in size; 
(5)   Mabuhay — Sparklers bunched into a bundle of a dozen pieces; 
(6)   Roman candle — A sparkler similar to a "fountain" but shaped like a big candle; 
(7) Trompillo — A pyrotechnic device usually fastened at the center and designed to spin first clockwise and then counter-clockwise and provides various colored lights upon being ignited; 
(8)   Airwolf — A kind of sky rocket shaped like an airplane with a propeller to rise about 40 or 50 feet and provide various kinds of light while aloft; 
(9)  Whistle device — Any of the various kinds of firecrackers or pyrotechnic designed to either simply emit a whistle-like sound or explode afterwards upon being ignited; 
(10)Butterfly — Butterfly-shaped pyrotechnic device designed to lift above ground while providing light; 
(11) All kinds of pyrotechnic devices (pailaw); and 
(12) Other types equivalent to the foregoing devices. 

Prohibited  Firecrackers and Pyrotechnics

Under Sec. 3 of RA 7183 “[t]he manufacture, sale, distribution and use of other types of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices not mentioned in [Sec. 2 above], of such explosive content that could endanger life and limb, such as atomic big triangulo and super lolo and their equivalent are hereby prohibited.  Determination of what constitutes prohibited firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices shall be vested with the Director-General of the Philippine National Police (PNP).”

HOWEVER, as of December 22, 2010, the following have since been banned by the Department of Health (DOH):

1.                  Piccolo
2.                  Pla-pla
3.                  5 -Star
4.                  Atomic Bomb
5.                  Triangulo
6.                  Super Lolo
7.                  Boga
8.                  Watusi

In case there are other kinds of firecrackers higher/more explosive than those in the list of banned firecrackers, consider it as illegal.[2]

In its website, the PNP lists other specifically prohibited firecrackers: “Big Triangle, Super Lolo and equivalents, Mother Rocket, Five Star, Og, Pla-Pla, Pillbox, Firecrackers without labels and other firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices that could endanger life and limb including ingenious underground fabrications such as Goodbye Earth, Atomic, and other dangerous firecrackers manufactured by illegal fireworks makers.”[3]

And on December 26, 2011, GMANews posted an updated list of the firecrackers prohibited (by the DOH and Department of Trade and Industry) for sale and manufacture in the country:

1.   Watusi or the “dancing firecracker.” It was initially allowed for sale and manufacture under RA 7183, but was eventually banned because it causes poisoning when ingested, especially among children.
2.      Piccolo – This firecracker has been the leading cause of firecracker-related injuries since 2007. The Department of Health banned it in 2007 because it can explode on the hands, and may cause death when ingested.
3.     Super Lolo and Atomic Big Triangulo – two firecrackers specifically mentioned in RA 7183.
4.     Mother Rockets – firecracker with a stick designed as a propellant upon lighting the wick.
5.      Lolo Thunder – a powerful firecracker twice the size of a Five Star.
6.      Pillbox – a firecracker that causes a series of sparks when lit.
7.   Boga – traditional canon made from PVC pipe using denatured alcohol as explosive ingredient.
8.      Big Judah’s belt – a string of firecrackers consisting of smaller firecrackers that number up to a hundred, and culminating in a larger and more powerful firecracker.
9.      Big Bawang – a firecracker packed in cardboard tied around with abaca strings, giving it the shape of a large garlic.
10.  Kwiton – aerial firecracker which explodes several times when lit.
11. Goodbye Philippines – giant triangle-shaped firecracker which packs a powerful explosion.
12.  Kabasi – a triangle-sized explosive twice the size of a Pla-pla. 

Other banned firecrackers include the “Atomic Bomb,” Five Star, Pla-pla, Og, Giant Whistle Bomb, and unlabelled firecrackers.[4]

In its Aksyon: Paputok Injury Reduction website, the DOH “strongly reminded the public that most cases of fireworks-related injuries come from the 1-10 years age group, totalling 330 cases or 34% of all injuries. This group is followed by the 11-20 years age group in number of injuries. It was also found that cases reach their peak during December 31 and January 1. Furthermore, DOH statistics of last year’s holiday celebrations reveal that most injuries were due to piccolo, kwitis, five star, pla-pla, and luces.”[5]

The DOH’s five reminders to prevent harm and injury are: 1) mapanganib ang paggamit ng paputok (fireworks cause injuries and endanger health); 2) lahat ng paputok ay bawal sa bata (children should not use any fireworks); 3) umiwas sa mga taong nagpapaputok(keep safe and away from exploding fireworks); 4) Huwag mamulot ng mga di sumabog na paputok (never pick used fireworks); and, 5) Magpagamot kaagad kapag naputukan(seek immediate medical treatment for all firework injuries).[6]

Buy only from licensed manufacturers, sellers, distributors

License or permit to manufacture, sell and distribute firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices shall be granted only for the manufacture, sale and distribution of allowed firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices. Under no circumstances shall a license or permit be granted for the manufacture, sale and/or distribution of prohibited firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices. (Sec. 4, RA 7183)

Firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices shall bear labels indicating the name and address of their manufacturers and warning instructions written in Filipino and English. (Sec. 8)

Imported firecrackers and fireworks are prohibited

The importation of finished firecrackers and fireworks shall be prohibited.  Only duly licensed manufacturers shall be allowed to import chemicals or explosive ingredients used in the manufacture of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices.  (Sec. 6)

Other Safety Guidelines

For those in neighborhoods with firecracker manufacturers, seller or distributors, note the following regulations to be followed -

Sec.  7. Safety Guidelines. — Strict compliance of the following safety precautions, rules and regulations shall be observed by manufacturers, distributors and users of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices: 

(a)    A zone shall be designed by the local government unit where a manufacturing complex may be established. The outer perimeter of this zone shall be at least three hundred (300) meters away from the nearest residential units. Once a zone has been defined, no residential unit shall be permitted nearer than three hundred (300) meters from the perimeter of such zone; 
(b)   The manufacturing complex shall be governed by, but not limited to, the following safety measures:
(1)   All buildings shall have adequate ventilation, no concrete floors, must be leak-proof and furnished with necessary fire extinguishers; 
(2)   The warehouse must be at least fifty (50) meters away from any processing station of the complex; and 
(3)   The following processing stations of the complex shall be laid out according to the indicated minimum distance from each other with all sides open: 
(i)                 Mixing 50 MTS 
(ii)               Grinding 40 MTS 
(iii)             Packaging 40 MTS 
(iv)             Nagmimitsa 20 MTS 
(v)               Loading 20 MTS 


Any person who manufactures, sells, distributes or uses firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices in violation of the provisions of this Act shall be punished by a fine of not less than P20,000.00 nor more than P30,000.00, or imprisonment of not less than 6 months nor more than 1 year, or both such fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the court in addition to the cancellation of his license and business permit and the confiscation by the Government of his inventory or stock.  (Sec. 11)

Like clockwork, at this time of the year there are already numerous cases of injuries and even death due to firecrackers. Making a big bang can be done without firecrakers (and we do not mean shooting a gun!). Driving away bad spirits or bringing good luck should not include risking life, limb or property.  Resorting to certain pyrotechnics is not only against the law but also common sense.  As one entry made in Facebook says, why not spend the money instead on the victims of Sendong?  Now that is one big bang gesture that should bring you back a lifetime’s worth of goodwill.

[1]  January 30, 1992.

[2] Department of Health, (2010). List of illegal and legal firecrackers. Retrieved from website:
[3]  Philippine National Police, (n.d.). Pnp intensifies crackdown on outlawed fireworks. Retrieved from website:
[4]  Calonzo, A. (2011, December 26). List of fireworks and firecrackers prohibited in the phl. Retrieved from  

[5]  Department of Health, (2011). Doh calls for apir - aksyon: Paputok injury reduction (give me five) campaign - this holiday season. Retrieved from website:

[6]  Supra.

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