How do we substantially lower, if not totally eliminate our yearly - like clockwork - fireworks-related injuries? It has been difficult to appeal to people’s common sense even after years of graphic reports of exploded limbs, faces and fatalities. People continue lighting fireworks knowing they can accidentally light themselves up in the process.
The government must (be made to) take action. Lobbying senators and house representatives to amend or enact new laws have proven ineffective so far. It’s time to expect more from our local authorities.
Consider that the Department of Health (DOH) reported a 17% decrease of fireworks-related injuries nationwide while there were 0 injuries reported in Davao city. Consider too that there were 106 people reportedly arrested in Davao City “for trying to use fireworks”.
What makes Davao City have an enviable record? It has a 12-year old total firecracker ban under City Ordinance No. 060-02 Series of 2002 (An Ordinance Prohibiting The Manufacture, Sale, Distribution, Possession Or Use Of Fire Crackers Or Pyrotechnic Devices And Such Other Similar Devices And The Exploding Of Firecrackers Or Other Similar Explosives Within The Territorial Jurisdiction Of Davao City) substantial provisions of which read as follows:
“SECTION 1. PURPOSE OF THIS ORDINANCE. – It is the purpose of this Ordinance to prohibit the manufacture, sale, distribution, possession and use of firecrackers or pyrotechnic devices and such other similar devices and the exploding of firecrackers and other explosives, within Davao City in furtherance of public safely, peace, order and security of the community.
SECTION 2. PROHIBITED ACTS. – (a) It shall be unlawful for any person or business establishment to manufacture, sell or offer sale, distribute, possess or use any firecracker or pyrotechnic devices or such other similar devices within the territory of Davao City;
SECTION 3. PENALTIES. – Violation of any of the provision of Section 2 of this Ordinance shall be penalized as follows:
A.) For the first offenses, a fine of One Thousand Pesos (P1,000.00) or imprisonment of not more that One (1) month but not less than twenty (20) days, or both fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the Court;
B.) For the second offense, a fine of Three Thousand Pesos (P3,000.00) or imprisonment of not more than Three (3) months but not less than One (1) month, or both fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the Court.
C.) For the third offense, a fine of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) or imprisonment of not more than Six (6) months but not less Three (3) months, or fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the Court.
If the violation is committed by a business establishment, the President of General Manager other person, acting in behalf of either the President or General Manager shall be held liable in the case of a corporation or partnership, or the owner or proprietor or the person acting in his behalf shall be held responsible in the case of a single proprietorship.
In addition to the foregoing penalties, the business permit of the business establishment shall be cancelled by the City Mayor upon the commission of the third offense.”
Bulacan will surely complain about the decline of their fireworks industry. But, unless they provide warranties regarding the safety of their products or at the very least put up a bond to cover all damages for fireworks-related injuries and deaths, they have no right to complain. Public interest overrides business interest especially if the business often leads to damage, harm and death.
We celebrate the coming of the new year through other ways: parties, binge-eating, horns, to name a few. The company of family and friends should be enough. Explosive devises which can maim, and may lead to the death of, our family and friends (especially the littlest among us) have no place in any celebration.
Finally, a total ban on fireworks (including guns) will surely help us pinpoint who, in the neighborhood, fired a gun. With a relative explosion-free neighborhood, it would not be so easy to fire a gun knowing the gunfire can easily be heard. Initial reports show that there were 40 people hit by stray bullets, 2 of whom – young children – died. Had we followed Davao City’s lead, 4-year old Ranjelo Nemor and 7-year old Stephanie Nicole Ella, who were hit and killed by stray bullets during the New Year’s celebrations, might still be alive today. We should put our foot down on any type of revelry that endangers lives. These children are not the first to have died from stray bullets while merely watching New Year’s celebrations, but it is our burden to ensure they are the last.
 Tubeza, P. (2013, January 2). Doh: 'crackers toll falls by 17%; zero injuries in davao city". Retrieved from http://www.doh.gov.ph/sites/default/files/010213-0010.pdf
 G, K. (2013, January 01). 106 arrested for using fireworks to welcome new year in davao. Retrieved from http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/288374/news/regions/106-arrested-for-using-fireworks-to-welcome-new-year-in-davao
 Stray bullets from irresponsible new year revelers have hurt at least 40. (2013, January 2). Retrieved from http://www.spot.ph/newsfeatures/52618/stray-bullets-from-irresponsible-new-year-revelers-have-hurt-at-least-40
 Stray bullet kills 4-year-old on new year's eve. (2013, January 1). Retrieved from http://www.rappler.com/nation/18919-stray-bullet-kills-4-yr-old-on-new-year-s-eve
 Elona, J. M. (2013, January 2). 7-year-old girl hit by stray bullet dies. Retrieved from http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/333839/girl-hit-by-stray-bullet-dies