Police appeal: Use phones vs gun violators
DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines—Instead of taking “selfies,” New Year revelers in this Pangasinan city have been asked by the police to use their mobile phones and cameras to catch on video people firing guns to welcome 2016.
“This is to enable us to build strong cases against violators,” said Supt. Christopher Abrahano, Dagupan police chief.
Three patients in Bayambang and Mangaldan towns have been treated for injuries caused by stray bullets since Dec. 24, said Dr. Noel Manaois, spokesperson of the Region 1 Medical Center here.
Police officials seal service firearms with tape to discourage indiscriminate firing during the New Year celebration.
On Tuesday, officials of the Pangasinan police sealed the firearms of members of different gun clubs in the province. Records from the provincial police showed that Pangasinan has around 40,000 licensed gun owners.
But Abrahano said the tradition of muzzling guns was ceremonial and nothing would stop policemen from peeling off the tape and firing their weapons.
“We would like to seek the help of the community. Please use your mobile phones and cameras to take footage and photos of policemen and civilians firing their guns,” he said.
“We assure you that we will prosecute anyone who will be proven to have fired a gun, whether he or she is a policeman or a civilian,” he said.
On Wednesday, Abrahano revoked the permit of a vendor here after she was found selling “piccolo,” one of the firecrackers banned by Republic Act No. 7183, which regulates the sale, manufacture and distribution of fireworks.
In 2007, the Department of Health banned piccolo, the leading cause of firecracker-related injuries.
Dr. Anna Maria Teresa de Guzman, provincial health officer, said 15 of the 30 firecracker-related injuries recorded in the province from Dec. 21 to 29 were caused by piccolo use.
In Bulacan province, fireworks manufacturers and dealers in Bocaue town asked the police to clarify what they considered an illegal confiscation of their products.
Susan Porciuncula, owner of SRC Fireworks in Barangay Turo, said members of the Central Luzon police confiscated a set of the firecracker called “sawa” (a local term for snake or python; sometimes called Judas’ belt or sinturon ni Hudas) from her store last week.
But when the police conducted another inspection on Tuesday, they said the product was not prohibited, Porciuncula said.
“I explained to a police officer from Camp Olivas (the Central Luzon police office) that [sawa] was not among those considered illegal. But he insisted it was unlawful and the police confiscated a set for verification. I have not heard from them until now,” she said.
Director Elmer Soria, chief of the police’s Civil Security Group, who led the Bocaue inspection, said the law allows the sale of sawa for as long as each unit weighs not more than 0.2 grams. The item was confiscated for testing.
Memorandum Circular No. l47, which the Department of the Interior and Local Government issued in 2013, listed Judas’ belt among the permissible firecracker.
But the circular also said local government regulators may confiscate pyrotechnic products “which are more than 0.2 grams or more than one-thirds teaspoon [of] explosive content.” Devices could also be confiscated “if these are oversized or have fuses that burn in less than three seconds.”
Soria said the police would return the confiscated product.
Lea Alapide, president of the Philippine Pyrotechnics Manufacturers and Dealers Association Inc., expressed the same complaint, saying the police have been confiscating Judas belts sold by other stores.
Soria said their inspection led to the confiscation of illegal firecrackers worth P50,000, among them items call “Goodbye Philippines,” “Bin Laden,” “Hello Miss Columbia” and “plapla.” Gabriel Cardinoza, Johanne Margarette Macob and Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon, and Ron Lopez, Inquirer Central Luzon
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