In the weeks leading up to New Year, authorities have been adamant in reminding the general public that fireworks or paputok are prohibited. This is the gist of President Duterte’s Executive Order No. 28 last 2017, which bans every possible use of fireworks by a private entity, and leaves to local governments the discretion of staging fireworks displays and exhibitions in public venues.
Last December 16, the Philippine National Police also stopped issuing special permits for community fireworks displays “to discourage mass gatherings among the spectators” and to curb the spread of COVID-19.
But Filipinos, who are well-versed in making and naming different types of fireworks, thus remain confused: are all fireworks off the list?
Authorities say no — a certain circle of fireworks referred to as pyrotechnics, or what we call pailaw, can still be set off to welcome the new year. These include luses, Mabuhay, sparklers, trompillo, whistle device, Roman candles, Fountain, and Butterfly.
The vital difference? Pyrotechnics produce very low to zero debris as they aren’t regularly loaded with explosive ingredients. They are more commonly used for visual effects, as opposed to firecrackers that don’t have that aspect.
To draw a clearer line, the police has released a list of the characteristics of prohibited firecrackers:
Overweight — those that have more than a third of a teaspoon or more than 0.2 net grams of explosive ingredients in them are considered overweight.
Oversized — remember the firecrackers Goodbye Philippines, Boga, Pillbox, Yolanda, Super Lolo, and Giant Pla Pla? Yeah, those.
Those that have a short fuse — they should not burn less than 3 seconds but not more than 6 seconds.
Imported — a.k.a. finished foreign products that didn’t undergo local assessment are also banned.
Mixture — those that have sulfur and/or phosphorous mixed with chlorates aren’t allowed as well.
Unlabeled locally-made products — nope, you can’t just make your own firecrackers, since you’re technically making an explosive, which also technically makes you a terrorist.
The point of the discussion isn’t to split hairs over what is or isn’t allowed, but to remind everyone that we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. Thus, for everybody’s sake and your own, just stop lighting firecrackers altogether and stay at home.