28 January 2023, Quezon City. The recent incidents of violence in some schools prompted the EcoWaste Coalition to call on local government units (LGUs) to halt the sale of potentially injurious toys that are being sold in the vicinity of schools and in public markets.
The group, which is campaigning for toy safety to protect children’s health from toxic chemicals and other hazards, is particularly concerned with the continued sale of imitation balisongs (butterfly knives) and other toy weapons made of plastic with sharp edges and pointed parts.
“We appeal to our Mayors, barangay, and police authorities to ensure that such toys are not offered for sale to young children. They need not wait for lamentable accidents and injuries to happen before taking action,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “God forbid that these dangerous toys are used in student-on-student violence within the school walls and beyond.”
Last year, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, the EcoWaste Coalition drew the government’s attention to the unrestrained sale of plastic toy balisongs, as well as kunai (daggers), shuriken (throwing stars), tanto (swords), and other weapons inspired by popular manga and anime series such as Naruto.
According to the group’s market investigation, these toys are often sourced from toy wholesalers in Binondo, Manila, and sold by retail stores and ambulant vendors outside public and private elementary schools. These toys are also sold by online sellers.
Based on the test buys conducted by the group last September, wholesalers at Divisoria Mall and New Divisoria Center sell plastic balisongs for P150/pack of 24 knives (or P6.25 each), assorted swords for P130/pack of 24 swords (or P5.41 each) and Naruto toys for P75/pack of 25 assorted weapons (or P3 each).
The toys are sold without market authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in violation of RA 9711 (FDA Act of 2009), and are not properly labeled in violation of RA 10620 (Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013).
The EcoWaste Coalition has already notified the FDA about the unlawful sale of such unauthorized and unlabeled plastic balisongs and other toy weapons. It requested the agency to issue an urgent public health warning to discourage consumers from purchasing and using these potentially injurious toys and to stop their further production, distribution and sale.
Meanwhile, the group renewed its call on LGUs to enact measures that will ban and penalize the distribution, sale and possession of such toys similar to what Makati City did in 2017.
Through Makati City Ordinance No. 2017-113, the local government expanded the list of prohibited items under City Ordinance No. 97-131 “to include plastic knives, balisongs, knuckles and other similar objects, which appear to be toys, but pose danger to people.”
Violators of the said ordinance shall be penalized as follows: fine of P1,000 for the first offense, P2,000 for the second offense, and a P3,000-fine or imprisonment not exceeding one month, or both at the discretion of the court for the third and succeeding offense.
“A child playing with toy balisongs and other toy weapons is an accident waiting to happen. National and local government actions, along with parental actions, can prevent these toys from harming our children,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.