FIREWORKS businesses are reeling from increases in production costs and restrictive policies in place and pleading for support from the government as the holiday season is in full gear.

The industry is suffering from shortages, price hikes and production losses, with the pandemic and rising inflation exacerbating the situation.

Dragon Fireworks, which handled the pyromusical show at this year’s Paskuhan, told the Varsitarian that China’s harsh lockdown affected the price of their raw materials.

Ang naging talagang problem lang especially this year, tumaas nang almost double ‘yung price lalo na sa consumer fireworks, […] most of the chemicals kasi […] comes from abroad and marami diyan comes from China, and China had this Covid lockdown na sobrang extreme,” product designer Don Miguel Villarosa said.

Consumer fireworks include bangers, sparklers, lances, fountains and multi-shot cakes, among others.

Villarosa said they had no choice but to increase prices to cope.

“[W]e’re telling them (customers) na kung ano man ‘yung rates natin two years ago, we cannot give that anymore kasi talagang nagtaas ‘yung inflation,” he said.

According to the Philippine Pyrotechnics Manufacturers and Dealers Association Inc. (PPMDAI), setbacks to price increases include job cuts and a lower number of stocks in inventories. Competing with online fireworks has also been a challenge, as most of them are unlicensed and unregulated.

Tighter rules

Villarosa denounced what he described as a “problematic” implementation of regulations, citing incidents of unclear demarcation between firecrackers and fireworks among enforcers.

[M]erong hindi nagpapatupad sa batas. Meron kasi mga ina-as one nila yan, […] so damay lahat ng items mo kapag cinonfiscate kahit hindi naman talaga dapat,” said Villarosa.

Fireworks are characterized by colorful flames and sparks meant for shows, while firecrackers are typically sound-producing explosives.

Former President Rodrigo Duterte issued two orders imposing stiff regulations on the fireworks industry: Executive Order No. 28, regulating firecrackers and confining pyrotechnic devices to community fireworks, and Memorandum Order No. 31, suspending the issuance of permits for new businesses.

Valenzuela 1st District Rep. Rex Gatchalian recently filed House Bill No. 5914 proposing a total ban on the sale of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices for consumers and requiring companies and entities to seek a special permit from the Philippine National Police-Fire and Explosives Office (PNP-FEO) to conduct fireworks display.

The Department of Health (DOH) has been advocating against using firecrackers during the holiday season due to high concentrations of toxic chemicals and the imminent risk of burn-related injuries that may result in amputation.

In recent years, the number of firecracker-related injuries has constantly declined. On New Year’s Eve of 2022, the DOH reported just 85 cases, lower than the previous year’s 95.

A significant number of the caseload stemmed from illegal firecrackers like piccolo and 5-star. Thirty-six percent of all reported cases came from Metro Manila, 15 from Region 6, and 13 from Region 1.

San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora, president of the Metro Manila Council, said they are prepared to release guidelines on the firecracker ban to be implemented all over National Capital Region to reduce the number of injuries resulting from firecracker misuse.

Villarosa batted these stringent proposals that might “kill” the industry.

“Imagine mo, sinasabi doon ng mga gusto magpa-ban, ‘Let’s change your business line.’ How can you say that to thousands of people na umaasa diyan? It’s not that easy, suportahan talaga,” he said.

“Pag pinatay mo, para saan na lang ‘yung mga competition na sinalihan namin noon representing the country? Diba parang nawala? Sayang talent. Sayang yung industry pag mawala altogether.”


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