Filipinos defy tough firecracker rules; 373 injured
Intrepid Filipinos defied tough firecracker regulations on New Year’s Eve and welcomed 2018 with traditional revelry using fireworks, leading to injuries to more than 370 people across the country.
The Department of Health (DOH), however, reported a much lower figure, counting only 191 injuries not just on New Year’s Eve but from Dec. 21 to Jan. 1, the entire monitoring
period for firecracker injuries.
That figure, the DOH said, was 68 percent, or 413 cases, lower than last year.
The DOH reported 604 firecracker injuries during the holiday season last year.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told a news conference on Monday that the DOH was “relatively pleased” at the 68 percent decline in injuries.
“Relatively because there are still injuries reported, but pleased because of the substantial reduction,” Duque said.
Duque attributed the decrease on President Duterte’s Executive Order (EO) No. 28, which limited the use of firecrackers to places designated by local governments and required police permit.
The government has also banned powerful fireworks like “Goodbye, Earth,” “super lolo” and “atomic big triangulo.”
“The government campaign against firecrackers has reduced the number of injuries. The passing of EO 28 reinforced the efforts of the DOH,” Duque said.
He said the DOH was considering recommending to Mr. Duterte an “absolute ban” on firecrackers, which should lead to “zero casualty.”
Malacañang hailed the drop in firecracker injuries.
“We proved that, while there was a very drastic cut in firecrackers this New Year, the people still had a joyous celebration,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
Not ready to give up tradition
The Philippine National Police tried to enforce EO 28 on New Year’s Eve, but Filipinos were not ready to give up their tradition, acquired from the Chinese, of welcoming the new year with the loudest noise they could make—with fireworks.
In Caloocan City, police used bullhorns from cruisers to warn people against playing with firecrackers.
But as soon as the cruisers were gone, people returned to the streets and set off bangers.
At 11:45 p.m., revelers let go, setting off “five stars,” “triangulo,” whistle bombs, “Judas’ belts” and “sawa” and launching all kinds of flying fireworks that illuminated the sky but also veiled the environment in thick smoke.
Police and regional offices of the DOH reported 373 people injured in the revelry across the country.
Government doctors said 193 were hurt in the celebrations in Central Luzon, Ilocos and Cordillera regions.
Of 92 blast victims in four Ilocos provinces, more than half were minors, according to Supt. Ferdinand de Asis, regional police information officer.
Sixty-five cases were in Pangasinan, 16 in La Union, three in Ilocos Sur and eight in Ilocos Norte.
In Central Luzon, 85 people were injured in firecracker blasts. Most of them underwent minor amputations in hospitals in the region.
In Cordillera, 16 people, including an 8-year-old boy, were treated in hospitals for blast injuries.
At least 107 people were injured in firecracker blasts in Southern Luzon.
In Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), police said 58 people were injured, including a 5-year-old girl at Maragondon in Cavite province.
In Batangas, police arrested Jeremy Latayan in Tanauan City for firing his gun.
Supt. Chitadel Gaoiran, spokesperson for the regional police, reported on Monday that there were injuries from celebratory gunfire in the province.
Reports from various provincial police offices showed that Laguna and Rizal provinces had the most firecracker injuries, with 26 victims from each province.
In Bicol region, the DOH regional office reported 49 firecracker injuries, most of them children.
Albay province recorded 27 injuries; Camarines Sur, 12; Camarines Norte, six; Sorsogon and Masbate, two each.
The DOH office also reported two cases of stray bullet injuries in Camarines Norte province.
In the Visayas, the DOH regional office and the PNP reported 69 firecracker injuries.
A woman was injured by a stray bullet in Aklan province.
Citing DOH data, the PNP in the Visayas reported 36 firecracker injuries, including 29 in Cebu, four in Bohol and three in Negros Oriental.
In Western Visayas, 24 people were injured, including 14 in Negros Occidental, six in Iloilo, three in Aklan, and two each in Capiz and Guimaras.
Health officials in Eastern Visayas reported six cases of firecracker injury.
In central Mindanao, four people were injured in playing with firecrackers, according to the regional office of the DOH. —Reports from Tina G. Santos, Philip C. Tubeza, Gabriel Cardinoza, Tonette Orejas, Maria Adelaida Calayag, Maricar Cinco, Mar S. Arguelles, Ma. April Mier, Michael B. Jaucian, Benjie Talisic, Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Joey A Gabieta, Carla P. Gomez, Edwin Fernandez, Frinston Lim, Divina Suson and Jigger Jerusalem
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