PNP airs warning as celebratory gunfire downs 7; ’cracker injuries up
Harsh sanctions await policemen who will greet the New Year with celebratory gunfire, the Philippine National Police officer in charge, Lt. General Archie Gamboa, said on Tuesday.
Also on New Year’s Eve, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III appealed to the public to spend money on worthy causes instead of buying firecrackers that may just leave them or others injured.
“Just use your money to buy gifts, or donate it to the church or to community feeding programs,” Duque said in a television interview. “You can do a lot more good with your money.”
As of Tuesday, seven people had been injured in 18 indiscriminate firing incidents nationwide.
Five of the casualties were reported in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) where two soldiers were arrested for indiscriminate firing.
The two others injured were in Metro Manila where three civilians were arrested for indiscriminate firing.
Based on PNP records, a total of 18 people, including a policeman in Caraga region and the two soldiers in BARMM, were arrested for indiscriminate firing.
Stray bullets caused no casualties or led to arrests in three incidents in Caraga and Metro Manila.
In an interview on radio station dzMM, Gamboa assured the public that officers were constantly reminded “it’s not worth it to fire guns indiscriminately because they would only be dismissed from the service.”
He warned police commanders, whose men violate the prohibition, that they would be held equally liable “particularly if we see he did nothing, not even give a reminder or check his men.”
According to Gamboa, indiscriminate firing by policemen is inexcusable.
He noted that the policeman involved in indiscriminate firing in Caraga region claimed that he did so over a marital spat.
“That is a very irresponsible action because he never even considered where the bullet would go and what was more concerning is the stray bullet could have hit a person,” Gamboa said.
The PNP OIC pointed out that civilians who own guns undergo stringent requirements for their license and permits to carry firearm outside their home.
“The requirement (for gun ownership) is doubled for PNP personnel. So the slightest mistake, it will mean dismissal from the service,” he said.
Addressing all gun owners, Gamboa said, “It’s not worth it to indiscriminately fire your guns. Policemen will get dismissed. Civilians will lose their license to own and possess firearm and their permit to carry.”
Despite the Department of Health’s (DOH) repeated calls to the public to avoid using firecrackers to help curb the incidence of injuries this year, the number of persons sent to the hospital to date due to firecracker use had already surpassed the figure recorded last year.
As of Tuesday, the DOH recorded throughout the country 62 fireworks-related injuries since reporting began Dec. 21.
While the figure was 63-percent lower than the five-year average of 169 cases, this was 3-percent higher than the same period last year when there were only 60 cases.
Duque has said that rather than light firecrackers, it would be more prudent for families to just find other ways to ring in the New Year, such as participating in street dancing or blow horns.
He, however, reminded that caution should still be observed in using horns as this may cause hearing damage if blown too close to one’s ear.
Under Executive Order 28, signed by President Duterte in 2017, the use of fireworks is limited to community spaces in an effort to curb the number of firecracker-related injuries.
Last year, the DOH recorded a total of 338 injuries nationwide, a 34-percent drop from 2017, when there were 550 recorded injuries.—REPORTS FROM JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE AND JOVIC YEE
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