DOH launches APIR program to reduce firecracker injuries
posted 25-Sep-2016  ·  
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Catanduanes may have the lowest number of firecracker injuries in the Bicol region for the previous year but the Department of Health is bent on further trimming these to zero, launching the “Aksyon Paputok Injury Reduction” (APIR) program in the island last week.

Preparing early for the yearly campaign to prevent injuries from fireworks and firecrackers during the Christmas season, the DOH provincial office met with representatives of the Philippine National Police, Philippine Army, Philippine National Red Cross, Municipal Health Offices, coordinators from Rural Health Units, Catanduanes State University, Department of Education, Provincial Information and Management Office, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, SP Committee on Health, Provincial Information Agency, and Bureau of Fire Protection, to introduce their new program last Sept. 15 at Rakdell Inn Function Hall.

With the aim of ensuring collaborative efforts in the implementation of national violence and injury prevention program derived from last year’s Violence and Injury Prevention Program (VIPP), the meeting seeks to coordinate moves in reducing, if not totally eradicating, violence and injury rates as well as mitigate disabilities due to firecracker blasts.

During the discussion, the local police stressed that most of those injured used the “piccolo” firecracker that is banned under Republic Act 7183. Among the firecrackers allowed for public use are “baby rocket”, “bawang”, “small trianggulo”, “pull strings”, “paper caps”, “el Diablo”, “Judah’s belt”, and “sky rocket (kwitis).” On the other hand, the pyrotechnic devices permitted are the sparklers, luces, fountain, jumbo regular and special, mabuhay, roman candle, trompillo, airwolf, whistle device, butterfly, and all kinds of pyrotechnic devices (pailaw).

Under the law, the gunpowder content of the firecrackers must not exceed to .02 grams, with the labels to be either in Filipino or English and the name of the manufacturer clearly indicated in the packaging.

RA 7183 mandates the PNP to promulgate rules and regulations necessary to regulate and control the manufacture, sale, distribution, and also to determine and review gun powder and other raw material content of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices. The local chief executives are also given the authority to promulgate the necessary rules and regulations within their territorial jurisdiction in conformity with the national standards, rules and regulations.

Manufacturers and sellers must secure a license or permit to manufacture, sell and distribute firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices to legally operate their businesses. The application can be filed at the office of the PNP chief, through the provincial director of the province where the business or project is located, with reasonable fees to be charged for the issuance of said licenses or permits.

Persons legible for issuance of license must be Filipino citizens of good moral character, and entities duly registered with the Bureau of Commerce of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and fully owned by Filipino citizens.

Safety guidelines under the same law state that a zone shall be designed by the local government unit where a manufacturing complex may be established, with the outer perimeter at least 300 meters away from the nearest residential units. Once defined, no residential unit shall be permitted nearer than 300 meters from the perimeter of such zone.

In case of violations by licensees or permit holders, a fine of not less than P20,000.00 or nor more than P30,000.00, or imprisonment of not less than six (6) months nor more than one (1) year, or both such fine and imprisonment,  shall be meted at the discretion of the court in addition to the cancellation of his license and business permit and the confiscation of his inventory or stock.

The DOH advised the public, especially children, not to use firecrackers to avoid accidents this coming holiday season and to find alternative ways of celebrating Christmas.

For the current campaign, the DOH will focus on advocacy and health promotion, surveillance, and health facilities service delivery while the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) will handles the issuance of a memorandum circular on the total ban on piccolo as well as setting-up of fireworks display zones.

The police will implement provisions of RA 7183, especially surveillance, monitoring and enforcement of piccolo ban, with the Bureau of Fire Protection stoking public awareness on fire hazards of pyrotechnic devices.

On the other hand, LGUs would issue appropriate policy tools like executive orders and legislative measures to reinforce RA 7183 provisions so that the local police can act strictly on it, and the setting up of fireworks display zone in their localities. The Department of Trade and Industry will handle the safety regulations on pyrotechnic devices; Bureau of Customs on surveillance, monitoring and enforcement of ban on importation of piccolo and other illegal fireworks/firecrackers; DepEd on health education and integration of APIR Iwas Paputok messages in the curriculum; the Philippine Information Agency on information dissemination og APIR Iwas Paputok messages; the DSWD on child welfare and protection; and, media partners on the promotion of APIR Iwas Paputok campaign. - Marla Bagadiong (PIMO)

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