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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

http://www.bworldonline.com/main/content.php?id=3856

ILOILO CITY — A group of firecracker manufacturers and traders in Arevalo, Iloilo City has passed the quality standards set by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The Sto. Niño de Arevalo Multi Purpose Cooperative (SNAMPC), which is composed of more than 300 fireworks manufacturers and 200 dealers and retailers, has been awarded a license to sell and distribute in the market with the PS (Philippine Standard) Mark.

The DTI’s Bureau of Product Standards (BPS) issued PS License no. Q-1276 to the cooperative last week. The PS license covers 18 products _ puetes, tambaliti, roweda, fountain ordinary, fountain special, camara, baby camara, triangulo, zapzap, whistle bomb, and tilinabid, among others.

Danilo Gison, general manager of the cooperative, said the PS license is a dream come true for the cooperative. This license shows that Iloilo-made pyrotechnics are as competitive and safe as those made in Luzon and abroad.

“We are the first group in Region 6 and the second nationwide to be granted a PS License. Now, we can manufacture in the open without fear of being apprehended,” Mr. Gison said. The cooperative has a manufacturing complex in Arevalo district composed of five processing structures and a warehouse.

“Being a PS licensee gives us high morale and more self confidence. We have accepted the challenge of having our products certified by the BPS. We thank all our members and the DTI for their support and trust on us,” he added.

The DTI-6 regional office said the cooperative’s 18 products passed the tests and complied with the requirements of the Philippine National Standards 1220-2, series of 1994 (Fireworks Part II Specification).

These products were tested for compliance with the requirements of PNS 1220-2:1994 on labeling, construction and performance. A local DTI team went to Brgy. Sooc, Arevalo, the cooperative’s manufacturing site, to test the products.

DTI regional director Dominic P. Abad also said the members of the cooperative underwent a series of awareness and orientation seminars on the pyrotechnic industry.

Among the seminars attended by the cooperative members were Forum on Fireworks organized by the DTI, Philippine National Police and the Iloilo City Government; Financing Forum for funding purposes; Awareness Seminar on ISO 9001:2008 with focus on Quality Management System; and Product Audit for compliance with the standards set by the BPS on fireworks.

As a requirement of Republic Act 7183 (An Act Regulating the Sale, Manufacture, Distribution and Use of Firecrackers and other Pyrotechnics Devices), the cooperative’s manufacturing area is located 300 meters away from the nearest residential unit and must be declared by the local government unit as a firecracker zone.

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Biron assails cheap meds law IRR

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ONE of the main proponents of the Cheaper Medicines Law criticized its implementing rules and regulations (IRR) as nothing but “a paper tiger.”

Rep. Ferjenel Biron (Iloilo, 4th district) said the IRR did not indicate the specific schedule and types of medicines to be regulated by the Department of Health (DOH).

Biron primarily questioned Chapter 6, Section 6 of the IRR which gives the DOH secretary the power to determine the prioritization of the drugs and medicines subject to maximum retail price (MRP).

Biron said it is important that priority medicines and their corresponding MRPs are spelled out in the IRR in order to fulfill the intention of the law.

 “What medicines will be regulated and when? Without this specific schedule and the medicines that must be subjected to price regulation, the law will be a failure. Is the DOH bent on implementing this law? No. With this IRR, the DOH secretary is like God. Nothing will happen unless he moves. Saying that the law was emasculated is an understatement. This law and its IRR will only give the people false hopes,” Biron said.

Biron said giving the DOH secretary the power to set the MRP for essential medicines will make the law susceptible to lobbyists of multinational pharmaceutical companies.

“This is fraudulent, this is not the intent of the law. It is pure stupidity not to spell out the necessary information in the IRR. They murdered the law,” he added.

The Ilonggo congressman said this is the result of the DOH’s refusal to support the price regulatory mechanism in the law which will set a ceiling on prices of essential medicines especially those needed for long-term medications.

“The DOH said let us leave it to the free market. But we have been using the free market in the last 50 years but what happened? Multinational pharmaceutical companies became abusive and medicine prices soared,” he said.

The Cheaper Medicines Act was signed into law June 6, 2008 after years of protracted debate in Congress aside from allegations of lobbyists from multinational pharmaceutical companies trying to derail the passage of the law.

The IRR of the law was published in the November 6, 2008 issue of a national daily.

Biron said he will use the House of Representatives’ oversight powers to look into the IRR and make the necessary amendments to the document.

“This is not the end of road for us. In the next few weeks and months we will come out with a list of the maximum retail prices of medicines,” Biron said.

Department of Trade and Industry regional director Dominic Abad said they will need a list of medicines brands and the corresponding MRPs in monitoring the market once the law is implemented.

Abad said the DTI was primarily tasked in the IRR to conduct price monitoring of medicines in areas where they hold office.   

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