Ban on balloon, sky lantern releases eyed

A councilor is proposing to prohibit the acts of releasing balloons and sky lanterns in Davao City, to address both environment and public safety concerns.

Councilor Maria Belen Sunga Acosta said on Tuesday’s regular session that the proposal came after netizens raged over Cove Manila Hotel attempt to set a world record by releasing 130,000 balloons as part of its New Year’s Eve countdown celebration.

Environmental groups and concerned citizens had expressed their concerns that it might cause environmental impact, causing the organizers to cancel the plan.

Acosta quoted Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu’s as saying that releasing a larger number of balloons outdoors can be cited as a violation of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

“The balloons released in the open constitute an act akin to littering, throwing or dumping waste matters in public places,” Acosta said on her privilege speech.

She also said that same wasteful and hazardous practice is present in the releasing of sky lanterns or paper lanterns.

“Not only are these lanterns released an act of littering, but they pose a harmful risk of igniting a fire when they land on trees, bushes or even houses,” Acosta said.

The councilor told reporters that the proposal came after a conversation with City administrator Zuleika Lopez during the Rizal Day celebration last December 30.

Acosta and Lopez found out that there was no existing ordinance about balloon and sky lantern regulation.

“Incidentally, we also shared the same sentiment about the Cove Manila issue,” Acosta said.

Acosta clarified that only flying balloons will be targeted in the proposed ordinance.

“This is not an absolute ban. Balloons will still be allowed as long as this will be properly disposed,” she said.

The councilor said that the business sector will not be affected once it will be passed.

Acosta said that different stakeholders, such as environmental groups, event coordinators, balloon and sky lantern manufacturers and sellers will be invited in crafting the ordinance.