MANILA: Firecracker-related injuries decreased by 35 percent nationwide as the country welcomed New Year’s Day, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on Wednesday.
In a press briefing, Duque said from December 1 to the early morning of January 1, the Department of Health (DOH) recorded 164 firecracker-related injuries lower than 251 cases reported during the same period last year.
Duque said the Executive Order No. 28, limiting the use of firecrackers in the country, has an impact in lowering the firecracker-related injuries.
He also attributed the decrease to the DOH information campaign dubbed ‘IwasPaputok’, recognizing the support of media and local government units in providing awareness to the public.
“This is indeed a welcome development but we will not stop until we achieve zero firework-related injuries,” he said.
The number of injuries this year is 71 percent lower than the 403 cases reported in a five-year average, from 2014 to 2019.
Though there is a decline of firecracker-related injuries, Duque said these numbers may still increase due to late consultations of the patients.
Duque also said there were no immediate reports of firework-related deaths so far.
The DOH will monitor and record cases until January 6.
Zero Injury Target
Meanwhile, Duque said the DOH will try to achieve a zero firework-related injuries.
He said the health department is working toward achieving this in the future saying: “What is the instrument of achieving (zero casualty)? Its banning it just like all other countries have banned the use of fireworks.”
Among the top five fireworks causing injuries were kuwitis, luces, fountain, piccolo and baby rocket– and only piccolo is illegal.
“There is no such thing as illegal or legal, these are all injurious,” Duque said.
He hopes the current administration will be able to create a legacy of an absolute ban of fireworks to achieve the zero-injury target.
“The DOH, I believe has the moral ascendancy to lead the way in banning fireworks, an absolute ban,” he said.
Although the banning of fireworks will provide a great impact on achieving the goal, Duque said DOH will explore some considerations in proposing the law.
“DOH has been known to be a very democratic institution and it always seeks the views of our parties, of our sectors before we craft a putative or a supposed law on banning fireworks,” he said.
Duque said the DOH will have a more balanced approach in crafting the law or a bill for Congress to take up.
“This is not a single, one-dimensional issue we have to take into consideration many other fastens of the issue, the economic implications, the people’s livelihood will be affected,” he added.
Duque said the government has to consider the alternative livelihood for those who will be affected by the banning of fireworks.
He added there are many ways to make noise during the merrymaking, which are safer.
“I am appealing to the parents once again to be responsible. The future of their children rests in their shoulders,” Duque said.
On the other hand, the Bureau of Fire Protection spokesperson Senior Supt. Geranndie Agonos said the fire incident from last year is 24 percent lower this year.
“This means the joint Oplan Iwas Paputok campaign by the DOH, PNP (Philippine National Police) and BFP is effective,” he said.
The PNP Explosive Management Division Officer-in-charge, Lt. Col. Lorenzo Cobre said they are monitoring and inspecting the safety of all fireworks manufacturer’s storages.
“We are also monitoring the supplier of the chemicals,” he added.
He said the fireworks circulating in the market are legally manufactured in the Philippines.
Lade Jean Kabagani/PNA