MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) reported yesterday a total of 630 fireworks-related injuries recorded during the New Year’s Eve revelry, which is 292 cases lower than the incidents in the previous year.
“We would like to extend our gratitude for the support of other national agencies, the local governments, non-government organizations and the media for the anti-firecracker campaigns. We do hope that eventually we will attain zero casualties from fireworks during the holidays,” said DOH Undersecretary Gerard Bayugo in a press briefing.
He noted the community fireworks displays organized by some local government units contributed to the decline in injuries.
Based on the data of DOH-Epidemiology Unit, the 630 cases recorded from Dec. 21 to Jan. 6 are also 319 less than the 2011 to 2015 average.
But Bayugo lamented that piccolo remained the leading cause of injuries, accounting for 192 or 31 percent of cases. Kwitis followed at 89; luces at 38; five star at 32 and other unknown firecrackers at 54.
“It would have been much lower if the ban on piccolo had been fully implemented. What is unacceptable is piccolo was really designed for children,” he said, adding the illegal firecracker was smuggled into the country.
The National Capital Region (NCR) accounted for 340 cases, followed by Western Visayas with 78 and Central Luzon with 47. A total of 351 of cases are children less than 15 years old.
In NCR, most cases were from Manila with 112 out of 340, followed by Quezon City with 76 and 27 from Marikina City. Only Muntinlupa did not have a case.
Senior Supt. Conrado Gongon, head of the Philippine National Police Explosives Management Division, said they did their best to apprehend sellers of piccolo but there are people really good at hiding illegal stuff.
Gongon added they arrested 44 retailers and charges of violating Republic Act 7183 will be filed against them.
Meanwhile, environmentalists urged the government to immediately issue an order to ban firecrackers that cause injuries to children and contribute to air pollution.
Aileen Lucero, national coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition, said the government should protect the health and safety of citizens, especially children most vulnerable to injury and pollution caused by firecrackers.
As pending bills on firecrackers in Congress may not be enacted fast enough, the EcoWaste Coalition supports the signing by President Duterte of an executive order that will prohibit firecrackers for personal or household use.
“The immediate promulgation of the EO will give the country, particularly the firecracker industry, more time to perform the necessary adjustment and transition,” Lucero said.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources had earlier reported that the air quality monitoring stations in Metro Manila for Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM 2.5) registered high levels up to 448 micrograms per normal cubic meter (ug/Ncm) on New Year’s Eve. The healthy guideline values for PM 2.5 is set at 25 ug/Ncm annually, and 50 ug/Ncm for 24-hour averaging.