Thursday, December 31, 2009

New killer firecrackers: Goodbye Gloria, Ampatuan

By Ric Sapnu
The Philippine Star
Updated January 01, 2010 12:00 AM

Original Story:

CAMP OLIVAS, Pampanga, Philippines – You can blow up an “Ampatuan” or bid “Goodbye Gloria” this New Year.

Firecracker vendors in Bocaue, Bulacan, in a bid to boost sales of pyrotechnics for the New Year revelry, came up with new types of firecrackers that are louder and more powerful.

Two of the most popular firecrackers are the “Ampatuan” and “Goodbye Gloria,” which pack so much punch and explosive power that they can shut off street lamps, trigger car alarms and shatter glass windows.

Police said the two brands stood out from among the banned firecrackers popularly known as “Goodbye Philippines,” “Bin Laden,” “In Cans” and “Trillanes.”

The Ampatuan firecracker was named after Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. who has been accused of the massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao last November.

Goodbye Gloria, on the other hand, was coined as a farewell parody to President Arroyo who is supposed to step down this June after the next president is elected in May.

A local fireworks manufacturer said Goodbye Philippines, Bin Laden, In Cans and Trillanes, named after detained Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, were the most popular firecrackers until Ampatuan and Goodbye Gloria came out.

Five pieces of Ampatuan are reportedly being sold at P250.

Goodbye Gloria, on the other hand, is sold for P280 to P300 for three pieces.

Officials said the firecrackers are not being sold openly but produced on order, making it more difficult for police to confiscate the firecrackers from vendors.

Local firecracker dealers in Bulacan revealed that most buyers are shopping for more powerful and “killer” types of firecrackers.

While the police were able to arrest the makers of banned firecrackers like the traditional pla-pla, kabase and super lolo, dealers of the Ampatuan and Goodbye Gloria firecrackers have resorted to selling their goods only to preferred customers on a made-to-order basis, according to Superintendent Ronald de Jesus, Bocaue police chief.

“We haven’t seen them yet but there are persistent reports that those two brands of firecrackers are really oversized and pack a lot of punch,” he said.

De Jesus has ordered full deployment of policemen along MacArthur Highway in Barangay Turo in Bocaue, known to firecracker buyers as “The Strip.”

The local government has also deployed firemen and paramedics along the highway dotted with rows of firecracker and pyrotechnic stores.

De Jesus said policemen have been tasked to strictly implement the provisions of Republic Act 7183 known as the Firecrackers Law, regulating the size of firecrackers within the safe limits.

De Jesus said they would not allow smoking and testing of firecrackers in the area to prevent accidents.

The police intensified their campaign against illegal firecrackers, particularly against piccolo, which was blamed for 58 percent of firecracker injuries.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Jesus Verzosa said the sustained campaign against piccolo and other forms of illegal and oversized firecrackers stems from the report of Health Secretary Francisco Duque on the rampant sale of such firecrackers despite the ban.

Duque reported that as of Dec. 30, a total of 121 cases, or 58 percent of firecracker injuries, was caused by piccolo.

Duque said piccolo is considered illegal because it is not among the regulated firecrackers and is often smuggled from abroad.

Piccolo looks like a big matchstick, but is hazardous and has been blamed for a large number of injuries, particularly burning of the eyes and limbs. -With Cecille Suerte Felipe

Original Story:

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