MANILA, Philippines — With drums rolling and horns blowing, Department of Health (DOH) officials took their anti-firecracker campaign, on Thursday to Pandacan, Manila—site of the Pandacan oil depot—to lobby for a safer means of merrymaking.
Miss Universe first runner-up Janine Tugonon joined Thursday’s program and did the “Gangnam style,” the popular dance craze used by the DOH as an alternative to using firecrackers to welcome the New Year.
Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the DOH was studying whether to impose a “controlled ban” on firecrackers if its current campaign would fail to lower the number of persons injured by firecrackers.
“This may really be not enough. We have to do more, maybe more drastic in terms of change of culture, the way we celebrate our holidays,” Ona said.
Health Assistant Secretary Enrique Tayag, who promoted dancing “Gangnam Style,” for the DOH campaign said the DOH had already done “almost everything in the book.”
“If we want to lower it further, we should study having a selective ban,” he said.
Tayag said a “selective ban” would mean that retail selling of fireworks would no longer be allowed and only “accredited organizations” would be given the green light to sell firecrackers.
“We are still discussing this and public consultations will follow,” he said.
As of Thursday morning, the DOH registered 108 fireworks-related injuries, lower than the 147 cases reported in the same time period in 2011, Tayag said.
“So, it went down by 26 percent but we are not going to be complacent about this because there might be more accidents during the new year,” he added.
Tayag said that out of the 108 cases, 53 were caused by the firecracker “piccolo,” five required amputations, while 23 had eye injuries.
“The youngest was a 9-month old baby who was with his mother as they were going to a godparent when someone threw a piccolo their way and the baby was injured in his neck and chin,” he said.
Besides Ona and Tugonon, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim also joined yesterday’s program, which was also cosponsored by the EcoWaste Coalition.
“We have come to Pandacan, a safety hotspot due to the presence of the oil depot, to urge residents to stay away from firecrackers and fireworks as a precaution against accidental explosions and fires,” said Aileen Lucero, an EcoWaster project officer.
“Taking a collective decision to shield the entire community from real harm is worth it, and as the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry,” she added.