Total Firecracker BAN vs. Philippine Tradition
|January 5, 2012||Posted by Listocrat under News, Opinions|
Putting a total ban on the use of firecrackers and fireworks is tantamount to annihilating “media noche” as an integral part of New Year’s Eve revelry. Though DOH and its “Goodbye Paputok” campaign failed to stall 854 injuries and 2 fatalities from occurring, it’s still not fair to completely ban the use of traditional fireworks to welcome the new year, as far as cultural and economic reasons are concerned.
At present, only two cities (Davao City and Zamboanga City) in the country have heeded Eco Waste Coalition’s call to implement a total ban on the “production, importation, distribution, sale and use of firecrackers and fireworks to protect public health, safety and the environment.” The waste and pollution watchdog have been vocal on its campaign against firecracker use, emphasizing its detrimental effects not only on the health and safety of Filipinos but also on our environment. Aside from the toxic dusts and particles, firecracker use also contributes in the formation of smog, forcing some airlines to be rerouted just recently to Clark International Airport due to ‘zero visibility’. And since other countries have banned the use of explosives in the past, opting to feast their eyes through majestic fireworks displays/shows instead of risking their safety like their Filipino counterparts, how come a total ban is not yet being implemented? Perhaps this is the question that most of us have been itching to ask. But in the context of our society, a question seems to be more befitting: Is it even possible?
A Filipino Tradition
Use of pyrotechnics by Filipinos is one of the remaining links we have with our Chinese ancestors, with the traditional use of fireworks dating back as early as the Spanish era. For this reason, it is safe to say that explosions and barrage from firecrackers have been part of our culture and preventing it will just result into a annual monotonous celebration. Furthermore, what’s the point of reestablishing a total ban if history already taught us that such attempt always failed significantly?
“It is too much. Even (former President Ferdinand) Marcos at the height of martial law failed to enforce a total ban,” Celso Cruz, president emeritus of the Philippine Pyrotechnics Manufacturers and Dealers Association (PPMDA), told The Philippine STAR.
And just like in the case of the “total log ban”, the term “total” will just further attract underground and illegal fireworks manufacturers to thrive in their business. Thus, putting such drastic policy will eventually bring more harm than good not just to our traditions but also to the fireworks industry as a whole.
An End to a Promising Industry
As a native of Bocaue, Bulacan, I know that a total ban will engulf the whole fireworks industry here and tear them into pieces. It’s not a big joke since a lot of people here thrive on this business and have made it as a reliable source of income. Needless to say, approving a total ban is like dethroning Bocaue as one of the country’s “fireworks capital”. In addition to that, the firecracker and pyrotechnics industry in the Philippines is worth P500 million annually and provides jobs to tens of thousands of local workers, so a total ban is not at all logical to begin with unless if the government will provide a fall back or an alternative for all of the employees that will be laid off in case such ban will be implemented.
A long-standing tradition of merry-making through fireworks display and use of firecrackers is no match for a “total ban” suggestion with a serious lack of supporting information to begin with. DOH Sec. Ona himself said that it would be hard to impose a total ban on firecrackers because Filipinos have gotten used to welcoming the new year with festive lights. Designation of specific firecracker zones, more serious penalties for those who buy/sell illegal firecrackers (must include piccolo!), practical amendments to the law governing the use of these fireworks and firecrackers, and a more intensive information dissemination and campaign should be enough to at least minimize or reduce firecracker-related injuries and deaths only if Filipinos know how to follow the rules and educate other people, especially children, about handling firecrackers with appropriate degree of caution.
And as we start a new year, let us also not forget that each person possesses the key for both personal growth and destruction. The choice is yours. Happy new year everyone!
Originally published at: http://kuro-kuro.org/archives/5301