MANILA, Philippines – Following renewed calls for a nationwide ban on firecrackers, Malacañang said on Monday, January 2, that although President Rodrigo Duterte is “a strong advocate” of a total firecracker ban, he is also considering its effects on businesses.
“There are industries and laborers that would be affected by this move. The President weighs/considers the welfare that would be for the greater good of all,” Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement.
As the Department of Health (DOH) reported a 60% drop in the number of firecracker-related injuries this year compared to the 5-year average since 2011, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial appealed once again for a nationwide ban on firecrackers.
Ubial said that not only would a total ban result in lesser firecracker-related injuries, it would also help deter cases of indiscriminate firing.
“We can actually monitor better the stray bullets if we don’t have the corresponding firecrackers firing up. Mapi-pinpoint kung sino nagpapaputok (We can pinpoint those firing guns) during this season if we eliminate the firecrackers,” Ubial said during the DOH press conference on Sunday, January 1.
Duterte deferred signing the DOH’s proposed executive order on the total ban days before the New Year celebrations. Palace officials explained that a total ban would be too late as the industry has already completed production of the firecrackers.
Andanar praised the DOH, Philippine National Police (PNP), and local officials for “a generally peaceful celebration.”
There were 350 firecracker-related injuries this year, the lowest number in 10 years.
The PNP also recorded a decrease in stray bullet victims this year, 4 compared to 38 in 2015. However, there were 4 cases of indiscriminate firing this year, one involving a cop, compared to one last year.
One of the stray bullet victims this year was a 15-year-old girl, who is in critical condition at the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center in Manila.
According to PNP, the increase in indiscriminate firing this year is a result of better community participation in reporting these incidents to the police.
As of January 2, the PNP still has not made an arrest relating to cases of stray bullet victims. PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa earlier issued an order to arrest suspects in 24 hours, lest they lose their jobs. – Lian Nami Buan/Rappler.com