It cannot get any simpler than this: uncontrolled, unregulated products mean unprotected consumers.
When illicit traders/importers are allowed to go about their irresponsible, dangerous, and potentially damaging if not destructive ways, the rest of society, and the general public is put in harm’s way.
Workers in the legitimate fireworks industry sounded the alarm against smuggled and excessively powerful firecrackers which are not only hurting local, licensed manufacturers but are alarmingly posing a “grave, clear present, and verifiable” danger to the consuming public.
The Department of Health singled out piccolo as the single biggest cause of injury during the traditional Christmas and New Year Holiday celebrations.
This type of firecracker is not manufactured locally, and since there is an official ban on each production, their proliferation in the domestic market can only be explained by smuggling.
Based on DOH, piccolo is accounted for 76% total injuries recorded during the holiday season last year.
In the official tally of East Avenue Medical Center alone, the piccolo-related injuries accounted for 85% of the total injuries.
These figures confirm general public observation that unregulated firecrackers, especially those illegally slipped into the country are the main culprit for the annual bodily injuries, including the loss of limbs, during the holiday’s celebration.
Quite curiously, the use of locally manufactured fireworks has yielded zero or minimal injuries.
This is explained by strict adherence by local manufacturers to “product standards” and strict enforcement by state industry regulators on their production.
On the other hand, the most glaring proof of persistent and rampant illegal shipment of dangerous firecrackers is the seizure recently of P5-M of firecrackers made in China in the port of Misamis Oriental.
Despite the unrelenting efforts of customs and law enforcement agencies, the smuggling of the contraband persists.
We understand their difficulty in monitoring all points of entry for the illegal firecrackers secretly shipped from abroad considering the country’s archipelagic makeup, having one of the longest coastlines in the world.
Quite admittedly, this can be a daunting challenge to industry regulators and law enforcers alike.
There has to be more teeth to existing laws, rules, and regulations governing the sale and distribution of such products.
Quite thankfully, Malacañang is addressing the problem.
In fact, workers in the legitimate firework industries are pinning their hopes on the signing and issuance of the Executive Order by President Duterte that would favor domestic industries and clump down on smuggling of dangerous firecrackers.
This way local jobs would be preserved while public health and safety is protected, they said by the signing on December 5.
Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial said that the prospective EO would not enforce a total ban on pyrotechnics but just tighten existing regulations to protect the general public.
Thus, we all can expect a more enjoyable, memorable, and a harmless observance of the Christmas and New Year holidays ahead.