This, even as PPMAP president Celso Cruz expressed confidence there would be less accidents related to pyrotechnic products as the New Year revelry nears, after hundreds of dealers underwent “fireworks safety refresher courses” in various parts of the country.
Cruz told Punto that the courses were held by his group and the police’s Fire and Explosives Group headed by Chief Inspector Napolen Estilles and the Civil Security Group led by Chief Inspector Emelito Sarmiento sponsored the courses.
“The courses were attended by pyrotechnics manufacturers and dealers and were held in various venues in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao,” he said.
Cruz noted that the courses “zeroed in on measures to prevent accidents during storage, selling and use of pyrotechnic products.”
At the same time, Cruz assured the public that the prices of pyrotechnic products are expected to remain stable up to New Year’s day, as product supply will likely be aplenty this year.
Cruz could not say how much raw materials are imported annually by some 40 pyrotechnics manufacturers nationwide.
“It’s illegal to import finished products, so we import the components potassium nitrate and sulphur mostly from China where they are cheapest,” he added.
“The gun or black powder used for pyrotechnic products are made of carbon, potassium nitrate and sulphur”, he explained.
He lamented, however, that some manufacturers have been reported to pass off imported finished products as locally manufactured. “Only recently, two container vans of finished pyrotechnic products were intercepted by the police and they were apparently intended for a local manufacturer,” he noted.
Cruz said that the only raw material derived mostly from local sources is carbon or “uling” which is mostly from “camachile” trees.
He could not say how much raw materials have been imported this year, but noted that at this time, about 80 percent of fireworks products have already been made for retailing.
While there are only about 40 legal pyrotechnics manufacturers nationwide, the PPMAP has about 300 member-dealers.
“But as usual, we expect illegal imports also to flood the market all over the country as New Year’s day nears. We must caution the public that imported finished products are illegal and can be confiscated anytime,” Cruz warned.
Cruz also said that the legal pyrotechnics industry in the Philippines could now be worth P700 million. “This estimate refers only to legal operations and excludes smuggling of finished products,” he noted.
During the Arroyo administration, former Health Sec. Francisco Duque III proposed total ban of firecrackers in residential areas, but Cruz objected to the proposal as illegal.
Cruz said the proposal ran counter to Republic Act 7183, also known as An Act Regulating the Sale, Manufacture, Distribution, and Use of Firecrakers and Other Pyrotechnic Devices, which was passed in 1992. The law gives only local government units the power to decide on such issues.