“Every easy choice today will have its consequences”.
—Meryl Streep in Doubt
Laws are generally crafted with the noblest intentions.
However, lawmakers should always be on the lookout for the laws’ unintended consequences.
Failing this, they could end up with a counter-productive, defeatist piece of legislation.
Consider the sin-tax law on so-called vice products—alcohol and tobacco.
Industry observers attribute the proliferation of fake cigarettes to the consistently rising prices of the product by virtue of the implementation of the Sin Tax Law almost three years ago.
Fake cigarettes are tempting to retailers as they promise higher margins while essentially undercutting the government in due taxes.
Internal Revenue officials had already warned retailers to only deal with official company personnel bearing legitimate identification and company-marked vehicles or face the consequence of the law.
PNP operatives, in hot pursuit of untaxed and other prohibited products, have arrested once again two fake cigarette traders in Brgy. Victoria, San Mateo, Isabela.
Analiza R. Bartolome, 38, and Dominador J. Pascua, 43, both married and residents of Angadanan, Isabela were nabbed while in the act of selling fake Mighty and Marvels brand cigarettes.
Police authorities acted on the complaint of a Mighty employee who chanced upon the two on board a tricycle without a license plate doing rounds in Purok 3, Brgy. Victoria, while in possession of boxes of the contraband.
The suspects were charged with violating Section 155 (trademark infringement) with Case No. II-040-INQ-16J-00141, in relation to Section 170 of Republic Act 8293, otherwise known as the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines which carries a penalty of two to five years imprisonment and a fine ranging from P50,000 to P200,000.
Over the last two years, a combined effort of the BIR, National Police, Bureau of Customs and National Bureau of Investigation yielded numerous suspects, including two minors, connected to the smuggling, distribution and sale of large quantities of fake cigarette brands.
* * *
The total ban on all forms of fireworks as proposed by certain sectors would uproot an age-old industry, dismantle support industries, displace thousands of workers in capacitate communities, and outlaw a long tradition that has been part of our rich cultural history.
If the purpose of the ban is to ensure public safety and security, both can be achieved by the simple act of strict state regulation.
A rigid state regulatory regime would ensure enforcement by government agents and compliance by industry players with all production quality, safety, health, and environmental standards.
Strict state enforcement has been noted in other countries where personal injuries and property damage arising from fireworks/firecrackers have been minimal or even nonexistent.
In contrast, it is only in the country where injuries and property damage are regularly reported with the use of fireworks/firecrackers although they have been on the decline over the last few years.
But a well regulated industry should ensure a zero tolerance for such injuries or damage.
By the way, regulation does not only include domestic industries but should check the smuggling of pyrotechnics.
This is because no amount of state regulation can ensure product quality and safety if smuggling continues.
In short, a comprehensive, not a simplistic solution must be adopted.
By the way, the most compelling argument for keeping a good, happy tradition may not be found in macro economics but in astro-physics.
If is beyond the cosmos, the Milky Way.
Picture somebody bigger than all these things lighting up the universe with a constant, serial fireworks.
And imagine the “Great Pyro-technician” igniting the galaxy while controlling the explosions in a harmless, spectacular light show.
Behold God’s glory and seek His mercy.
Pause and pray, people.