At least 20 injured in NCR due to firecrackers

MANILA, Philippines – At least 20 individuals have been injured because of firecrackers in the National Capital Region (NCR), police chief Director Oscar Albayalde said on Thursday, December 28.

Albayalde, in a press briefing, said most of the injured were children. The usual culprit? The “watusi” and “piccolo,” both of which are illegal firecrackers.

This is despite a nationwide ban on the use of any firecracker and the staging of fireworks displays through an Executive Order signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in June 2017.

Around this time last year, prior to the issuance of EO 28, the Department of Health recorded 45 firecracker-related injuries in Metro Manila, more than double the number this year to date.

Albayalde said the firecrackers were likely bought from small-scale stores whose stocks were not seized in previous operations.

Police have thus far arrested two individuals with over 53 boxes of illegal firecrackers in Divisoria in Manila.

Albayalde also reminded the public that firecracker use is only allowed in community display zones. There are roughly 28 in different areas in Metro Manila. Only certain pyrotechnic devices, such as the luces or mabuhay, are still allowed to be used outside of community display areas.

In Metro Manila alone, 9,559 uniformed police personnel have been deployed for the coming New Year.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) this year has also done away with the usual tradition of taping cops’ issued firearms. “The chief of the PNP wants to show that we have a disciplined police force. Foreigners, for instance, are confused as to why the muzzle of our police personnels’ guns are taped,” Albayalde said.

PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa in 2016 skipped the yearly tradition.

In NCR, two cops – both with the rank of Police Officer 1 – were arrested for the illegal discharge of their firearms during the holiday revelries. They are under restrictive custody and face charges.

Based on Dela Rosa’s directives, the two face dismissal from service. “There’s no reason for you to fire your firearms indiscriminately,” said Albayalde. The two cops were apparently drunk when they discharged their firearms.

The PNP is enforcing a “one strike policy” on cops caught shooting their firearms indiscriminately. –