MANILA, Philippines – With almost 600 injured during New Year celebrations, Malacañang threw its support behind the proposal of Health Secretary Enrique Ona to ban the individual use of firecrackers.
“We are one with this pronouncement from Secretary Ona of the DOH (Department of Health). It’s time to have safe alternatives to dangerous New Year celebrations,” said Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr on Wednesday, January 1.
One of the “safe alternatives” proposed by Ona is to allow only “community fireworks managed by responsible persons, LGUs (local government units) or organizations in designated areas,” Coloma quoted Ona as saying.
In the proposal, LGUs will identify safe areas for the community fireworks display. Only accredited organizations will be allowed to purchase fireworks, reducing the likelihood that irresponsible individuals will get their hands on the dangerous products.
Such a measure can help bring down the count of injured and will encourage legitimate firework manufacturers, said Ona.
Manufacturers should also be assisted in shifting to safe fireworks production, he added.
Firecrackers banned by the DOH – Piccolo, Five Star and the Pla-pla – caused the most number of injuries this year.
Failed information campaign
Coloma lamented that despite warnings from government agencies, Filipinos continued to use harmful fireworks to welcome 2014.
The number of injuries was 43% higher than last year’s count despite the department’s information campaign against the individual use of firecrackers.
Sanctions await law enforcers who needlessly fired their weapons as part of the revelry, continued Coloma. This year, a 3-month-old baby was killed by a stray bullet in Ilocos Sur. Two similar fatalities were reported last year, one of them a 7-year-old girl.
The muzzles of firearms of some 148,000 police personnel had been taped to prevent them from firing the weapons indiscriminately during the celebrations. The chiefs of police are set to inspect the firearms to see who violated the rule.
Police were instructed to be extra vigilant as they patroled public places like churches, airports and transport terminals, malls and parks. – Rappler.com
Fireworks image from Shutterstock
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