MANILA, Philippines—Three days before the New Year, the number of injured ahead of the revelry rose to 165 on Saturday, the Department of Health (DOH) said.
The DOH, which has appealed to the public not to use firecrackers, said 164 were injured by fireworks as of 6 a.m. on Saturday while one person was hit by a stray bullet.
“This (total of 165) is four percent lower than the previous five-year average and 32 cases (16 percent) lower than in the same period last year,” the DOH said.
Most cases occurred in the National Capital Region (82 cases), followed by Western Visayas (14), and Western Mindanao and Calabarzon with nine cases each, it said.
So far, there were no reported deaths or cases of firecracker ingestion, the DOH said.
Most of those injured were male (139) while the victims’ ages ranged from nine months to 61 years. Their median age was 10.
“Sixty-five (40 percent) cases were children under 10 years old. The most affected age group was the 6-10 (69 or 42 percent),” the DOH said.
“(The) majority (135 or 82 percent) sustained blast injuries not requiring amputation, 27 (16 percent) had eye injuries and five (3 percent) suffered blast injuries requiring amputation, the DOH said.
It added that 78 percent or 128 cases “involved illegal or dangerous firecrackers” with 97 injuries caused by the piccolo firecracker.
According to Sen. Gregorio Honasan, the level of explosiveness that local firecrackers pack, such as the Goodbye Philippines or Super Lolo, could rival military projectiles.
“What’s glaring here is the level of our firecrackers. They’re in the category already of high explosives. The level of destruction and damage is amazing,” Honasan told the Inquirer.
“If we want to be imaginative, if we can push this as a component of our self-reliance program, maybe we can develop—even primitive—surface-to-surface missiles and surface-to-air missiles, with the kind of explosives we are using now,” said Honasan, an advocate for a local weapons industry.
Honasan nonetheless expressed concern over the number of firecracker-related injuries in the days leading up to the New Year.
Honasan, a former Army colonel and chair of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, took responsibility for the lack of attention two bills on stiffer firecracker control received from his panel since 2010.
“We cannot anymore ignore the statistics related to injuries. So I accept full responsibility,” he said.
Two firecracker control bills are pending in Honasan’s committee. With a report from Norman Bordadora