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In Davao City, it’s a Reality

By Lorraine LorenzoDecember 31, 2017

How a city welcomes a pollution-free and injury-free New Year

 

EVEN BEFORE PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order No. 28 signed last July which calls for the regulation and control of the use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices to preserve public safety, Davao City has already been enjoying a pollution-free and injury-free Christmas and New Year revelry for 16 years already through its City Ordinance No. 060-02.

The result of this city ordinance is considered to be the ‘envy’ of most local government units in the country, and on the national level, by the Department of Health itself. This is because through the C.O., Davao is able to enjoy clean air during the New Year, and better yet, no casualties resulting from a mishandled firecracker has been reported since 2002.

“Before the ban, Davao City, like elsewhere in the country, was chaotic during Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It was unsafe to be on the road as the possibility of firecracker injuries are high.  At home, the possibility of fire incidents from firecracker blasts was also a concern. Now, our Christmas and New Year’s Eves were more peaceful sans the firecrackers; we get to breathe the crisp unpolluted Christmas air. Most importantly, there are no fatalities related to firecracker use,” said Jefry Tupas, Davao City Information Officer.

 

How it worked

C.O. No. 060-02 was enacted by the 13th City Council on Oct. 15, 2002 and approved by then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte a month after. The CO prohibits any person or business establishment to manufacture, sell, distribute, possess or use any firecracker or pyrotechnic devices or such other similar devices within the territory of Davao City.

The Davao LGU shared that implementing the CO was difficult at first. Before its passage in 2002, there was already a ban ahead of the ordinance via an order from Mayor Duterte prohibiting the sale of firecrackers and pyrotechnics during the Christmas season of 2001.

Vendors and malls intending to sell these items were also not issued with permits. It served as sort of a “dry run” back then.

In the beginning, many were resistant. But alternatives were introduced such as videoke singing, street dancing, blowing fancy horns and banging of pots and pans. And in lieu of a pyrotechnics display, Davao City welcomes the New Year with a countdown party called the Torotot Festival, which began in 2014.

 

Countering challenges

Tupas shared that there were those who challenged the ordinance and the resolve of the LGU to implement it.

“I believe it takes a strong political will to fully implement laws — all laws. There were apprehensions made and arrests. There was a crackdown on the sale of firecrackers. The ordinance was very tough to the core that even transport of firecrackers was prohibited,” he said.  

The ordinance penalizes first offenders with a fine of P1,000 or imprisonment of 20 to 30 days, or both; second offenders were fined P3,000 or imprisonment of one to three months or both; while third offenders are meted a fine of P5,000 or imprisonment from three to six months, or both.  Meanwhile, managers or owners of business establishments caught violating the ordinance were also held liable and their business permits cancelled on the third offense.

 

Encouraging results

The Davao City Police Office notes high compliance of the firecracker ban. Davao City personnel at the health and fire departments are the envy of their counterparts in other parts of the country who are busy attending to emergencies at the strike of New Year.

Today, Davaoenos no longer seek the thrill of lighting firecrackers.  “After New Year’s Eve, we are delighted to hear the following day that once again, no injuries were reported in Davao City as compared to other cities in the country,” Tupas said. “And that is something to be thankful for.”