MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health reported a total of 458 fireworks-related injuries as of 6 am Saturday, January 2 – 44% less than in 2014.
In an interview on dzMM on Saturday, Health Secretary Janette Garin said that the figure is is 49% lower compared to the 5-year average from 2010 to 2014.
About 78% of the injuries were caused by the banned firecracker piccolo, she added.
She reitertated the DOH's call for a total ban on firecrackers, and her preference for public fireworks displays held by various local government units to welcome the new year.
“Nagkakaroon din ng nakikiusap na baka ito (total firecrackers ban) ay maapektuhan ang kabuhayan [ng] mga tao na maaaring dependent. Pero ang tingin namin hindi naman dependent iyan dahil seasonal naman ang paputok,” Garin explained.
(Some people have appealed to us to not push for a total firecrackers ban because it might affect the livelihood those dependent on firecracker sales. However, we don’t believe this because firecrackers are seasonal products only.)
Yesterday morning, the DOH recorded 380 cases of injuries from fireworks and firecrackers, and 4 from stray bullets.
A drunk man also died after he embraced a giant firecracker, called "Goodbye Philippines,” as it was about to explode. (READ: New Year mayhem kills 2, injures hundreds)
Garin noted that there was no reported case of fireworks ingestion as well.
‘All-out war’ vs piccolo
Meanwhile, environmental watchdog EcoWaste Coalition urged the government to declare an “all-out war” against the use of piccolo, as it supported the DOH’s proposal to impose a national ban on firecrackers.
“An all-out war against smugglers, distributors, and sellers of piccolo will stop this small but terrible monster in further harming more child victims,” EcoWaste Coalition coordinate Aileen Lucero said in a statement.
She urged the government to declare the crackdown as early as now, and to assign the Bureau of Customs to execute this before the next Christmas season.
“As what is at stake is the health and safety of young children, we urge the government to provide for a reward system that will lead to the identification and apprehension of culprits involved in the illegal trade of piccolo and other banned firecrackers,” said Lucero.
“We urge our lawmakers to enact a total ban on firecrackers to stop this out-of-date practice of ushering in the New Year with bloodied hands, smoggy atmosphere and garbage-strewn surroundings,” she added.