Charges filed vs owner of fireworks shop in Bulacan over deadly blast

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan — Police arrested the owner of AA fireworks and filed charges against him following the explosion that killed two toddlers and their mother and injured four others in Sitio Banca-Bancaan, Barangay Bulong Buhangin in Sta. Maria town Wednesday morning.

Acting Bulacan police director Senior Supt. Romeo Caramat Jr., on Thursday said that the Sta. Maria Police Station headed by Supt. Rainer Valones arrested Wilfredo Alonzo, 49 and was charged with cases of reckless imprudence resulting to multiple homicide, physical injuries and damage to properties aside from violations of Republic Act 7183 otherwise known as the “Firecracker Law”.

Alonzo is now under the custody of the Sta. Maria police, Caramat said.

Police said workers were making sky rocket, locally known as “kwitis”, when the blast happened, killing siblings Ashley Mayo, 2 and Brylee, 5. Their mother, Mary Grace Mayo, 28, also died later in a hospital. The three came to the factory to just bring food for the head of their family, 29-year-old Benjie Mayo, who works at the factory.

The blast also injured Ryan Magnai and Raymund Muntante. Two still unidentified persons suffered minor injuries, police said.

The explosion also damaged houses and a car within the vicinity.

It was the second deadly explosion to rock Bulacan, dubbed as the hub of the fireworks industry in the country, this year.

Last month, a powerful explosion rocked a row of fireworks stall in Bocaue that emanated from the stockroom of Gina Fireworks in Barangay Biniang 1st, Bocaue.

The blast killed Gina Gonzales, 47, owner of Gina Fireworks and Manuel “Gigi” Ayala, a former barangay captain of Biniang 1st while 26 others were injured.

Most of the injured victims suffered burns, including passengers of a public utility vehicle that was passing along the Macarthur Highway when the blasts occurred.

Investigators said the explosion emanated from the store of Gonzales, a licensed fireworks dealer who has been selling fireworks for more than three decades.

Valones, however, said that the license and permit of Alonzo as a fireworks manufacturer has already expired last July 2016.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Pyrotechnics Manufacturers and Dealers Association, said that they will join the police in conducting inspections of factories in stores.

Engineer Celso C. Cruz, chairman emeritus of PPMDAI, said their group, together with the PNP-Civil Security Group and the Bulacan Pyrotechnics Regulatory Board, has been conducting safety training seminars for stakeholders of the fireworks industry.

He said that there were lapses that caused the explosions in Sta. Maria and Bocaue.

“If they were strictly following the safety guidelines, these accidents will not happen,” he said.

Cruz, a chemical engineer, also said that it is high time to ban the use of potassium chlorate and the black powder known as “devil” which, he said, are unstable ingredients and have been the cause of major accidents in the industry.

He said these chemicals have already been banned in other countries producing quality fireworks and pyrotechnics devices. Emil G. Gamos /