EcoWaste Coalition Backs NCR-Wide Ban on Firecrackers

A non-government organization promoting a zero waste, toxic-free and COVID-safe celebration of the New Year lauded the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) for its stance against the use of firecrackers in the National Capital Region (NCR).

In a statement, the EcoWaste Coalition backed the resolution passed last week by the RPOC-NCR recommending the ban on firecrackers in the 17 local government units (LGUs) comprising Metro Manila to reduce firecracker-related injuries and to prevent mass gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We laud the RPOC-NCR led by ParaƱaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez for recommending a Metro Manila-wide ban on firecrackers during the holidays, particularly during the New Year revelry, as this will benefit public health and the environment,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We expect concerned LGUs to heed the Council’s recommendation, adopt the necessary policy measures, and conduct effective public information and law enforcement activities to ensure zero use of dangerous and polluting firecrackers in their areas of jurisdiction,” he said.  “LGUs in other regions, we hope, will do the same for the health and safety of their constituents and the protection of the ecosystems.”  

The EcoWaste Coalition last November wrote to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) proposing a national ban on firecrackers and fireworks amid the unparalleled climate and health emergencies affecting the Philippines and the rest of the world.

“Celebrating the New Year with firecrackers and fireworks encourages mass gathering in the neighborhood or in a community or park hosting a fireworks display, which will make physical distancing, a precautionary health measure against COVID-19, difficult to observe,” the group told the IATF.

“Even minor injuries resulting from firecracker and firework accidents will require emergency care and treatment at a hospital to prevent tetanus infection, further straining an already overburdened healthcare system,” the group pointed out.

In response, Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje of the Department of Health wrote to the EcoWaste Coalition stating that “the DOH is one with you in advocating a healthy and safe yearly celebration of the yuletide season.”

“The DOH enjoins the public to refrain from organizing and participating in any activity that promotes mass gathering of people such as the conduct of community fireworks display for New Year’s celebration to prevent the further spread of COVID-19,” said Cabotaje.

“In lieu of the conduct of such activities, the DOH recommends the conduct of safer alternatives such as celebrating virtually or small gatherings with family members and the use of alternative merry making noise tools,” she added.