Stray bullet kills baby
Children were the most vulnerable victims of the New Year’s Eve “big bang” revelry, highlighted by the death of a 3-month-old who was hit by a stray bullet in Caoayan, Ilocos Sur province.
The bullet pierced the head of Von Alexander Llagas as he slept beside his father, Valeriano, in their house in Barangay (village) Anonang Mayor at 11:50 p.m. on Dec. 31.
His mother, Vanessa, was in the kitchen preparing a midnight feast, when he cried. At that moment, Vanessa said she heard something strike their roof.
When Valeriano saw Von’s head bleeding, he took the baby to Gabriela Silang General Hospital in Vigan City. The baby was transferred to Metro Vigan Cooperative Hospital where he died.
Von, the youngest of four siblings, was among those hit by stray bullets in the New Year revelry.
Health officials observed that while the number of firecracker-related injuries in the country increased significantly, most were milder than the cases last year.
“I’ve been in the emergency department of PGH (Philippine General Hospital) for 12 years and most of the injuries then were serious. You see hands blown off. But this year, injuries were milder,” Health Undersecretary Teodoro Herbosa said.
Preliminary data released on Wednesday by the National Epidemiology Center of the Department of Health (DOH) showed that the number of injuries from Dec. 21, 2013, to 6 a.m. on Jan. 1, rose 29 percent from the average in 2008-2012.
The DOH recorded a total of 599 injuries, including nine from stray bullets, based on data from 50 sentinel hospitals nationwide.
Bucking the trend from the DOH’s preliminary data was a blast that hit Raymond Oliver Amante, 24, in Calauan, Laguna province. He was killed after a firecracker that failed to light up the first time blew up in his face.
Amante tried to light a boga, an improvised firecracker that uses a PVC pipe, but it failed to go off. “When the victim tried lighting it up again, it exploded,” said Chief Insp. Margielyn Lozada, Calauan police chief.
In Caoayan town, Senior Insp. Reynaldo Mendoza has directed a determination of the bullet’s trajectory to trace the gun and its owner.
“We’re hoping that whoever did this to our child would be arrested immediately,” said Vanessa, a laundrywoman and Von’s mother.
Ilocos Sur Gov. Ryan Luis Singson put up a P250,000 reward for information that would help solve the case.
More stray bullet injuries
In Laoag City, a stray bullet wounded Rhauz Angelo Corpuz, 2. The boy’s mother saw the left side of his head bleeding, so she took him to Laoag City General Hospital.
In Pasig and Marikina cities, four people—including two minors—were taken to area hospitals after they were hit by stray bullets.
Senior Supt. Mario Rariza, Pasig police chief, identified the victim in the city as Diane Vocal, 2.
Charlie, the victim’s father, told the police he and his daughter were standing in front of their house on Tuesday when he noticed something hit the 2-year-old’s forehead at 11:40 p.m.
Rariza said the girl was taken to Rizal Medical Center where she was treated for a minor injury.
In Marikina City, the victims were identified as Angeli Canieto, 14; Erlyn Prestosa, 20; and Rey Carlos Namsing, 26.
Senior Insp. Eduardo Cayetano, the city’s investigation chief, said the 14-year-old had told the police she was outside her house in Barangay Malanday when she heard someone fire a sumpak (improvised shotgun) nearby. Then, she said she just felt she was hit in a part of her body.
Other bullet injuries
— Two victims were recorded in Bulacan province.
— Doctors treated Chito Corpuz, who was hit in Tumauini town in Isabela province.
— Hospital worker Raul Ernanzo Alday, of Candelaria, Quezon, was hit below his right ear while he was eating media noche inside his house.
Supt. Francisco Ebreo, Candelaria police chief, said Alday would have to be operated on as the bullet was still lodged in his jaw.
— In Naga City, a 40-year-old male was injured on Dec. 30.
— Indiscriminate firing allegedly by a policeman was reported in Tinambac town in Camarines Sur province.
— One stray bullet injury was reported in Cebu City and another in Mandaue.
— Police arrested Adolfo de la Torre, a retired member of the Philippine Air Force, for allegedly firing his gun on Dec. 28 in Baler town.
— In Calasiao town, police are investigating how a slug from a .45-cal. gun ended up in the family compound of Inquirer Northern Luzon reporter Gabriel Cardinoza on New Year’s Day.
Bulacan province, where many of the country’s firecracker and pyrotechnic manufacturers and dealers are based, reaped what it sowed, hurting children.
Hospitals in Bulacan treated 36 people who suffered burns or whose fingers were mangled by wayward or mishandled firecrackers. Many of the patients were aged 8 to 10.
But Felicisima Mungcal, chief of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), said the 36 cases were lower than the 120 firecracker-related injuries in 2012 and the 63 in 2013.
Reports from the Central Luzon office of the DOH and the Bulacan PDRRMC recorded 105 firecracker blast victims as of Dec. 31.
Highest in Central Luzon
Bulacan recorded the highest number of cases with 36, followed by Pampanga province with 22 and Bataan province with 21.
In Isabela province, Joshua Amigo, 9, was watching children light firecrackers in front of his house in Cauayan when his left eye was hit by an exploding piccolo that was thrown by a boy shortly before midnight of Dec. 31.
In Pangasinan province, the provincial health office (PHO) said 63 people suffered firecracker-related injuries. The PHO said 37 of the victims were children, aged 5 to 14.
Dr. Policarpio Manuel, chief of the provincial hospital in San Carlos City, said they recorded 21 firecracker blast victims since the Christmas week, exceeding last year’s record of 18.
In Baguio City, a decision to ban firecracker sales resulted in a relatively quiet New Year’s Eve revelry, but it did not prevent the 12 firecracker blast injuries recorded by local hospitals as of 10 a.m. on Jan. 1.
Fire spoiled the revelry in Isabela’s Reina Mercedes town after three houses were razed in Barangay Nappacu Pequenio on Wednesday morning.
In Legazpi City, a hut caught fire at Ems village after it was hit by kwitis.
Piccolo, a banned firecracker, was the leading cause of injuries, accounting for almost half of the total number recorded by the DOH.
In Bicol province, Chief Supt. Victor Deona, Bicol police director, said 13 persons, mostly children aged 4 to 12, were injured from firecracker blasts, mostly from piccolo.
Deona said 60 cases of firecracker injuries were recorded from Dec. 16 to Jan. 1. He said a child on Sibuyan island lost three fingers to piccolo.
In Laguna province, 30 people were reported injured by firecracker blasts while 44 others were hurt in Cavite province, among them a 32-year-old man from Ternate who had a finger amputated, and a 12-year-old boy from Trece Martires City, who suffered an eye injury.
In Tacloban City, three minors were treated at Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center for firecracker injuries.
Firecracker injuries in Central Visayas rose 36 percent from last year, according to the DOH in the region.
From Dec. 16 to Dec. 31, 74 firecracker injuries were reported, mostly in Cebu and during the New Year revelry, five children had their fingers amputated, according to Rennan Cimafranca, head of the DOH regional epidemiology and surveillance unit.
Over the same period last year, 54 cases were recorded in the region.
Cimafranca said that of the 74 injuries, five were cases of finger amputations and 16 were eye injuries.
In Bacolod City, however, firecracker injuries during the New Year revelry dropped 50 percent. Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo City recorded eight firecracker victims.
Health Undersecretary Jeanette Garin reiterated the DOH position to promote community fireworks display and a ban on selling and using firecrackers by households.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma supported the proposal to ban firecrackers and to put up community fireworks in designated areas.—Reports from Leoncio Balbin Jr., Yolanda Sotelo, Gabriel Cardinoza, Villamor Visaya Jr., Kimberlie Quitasol, Desiree Caluza and Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon; and Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Armand Galang, Cesar Villa and Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon; Maricar Cinco, Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Mar Arguelles and Shiena Barrameda, Inquirer Southern Luzon; Joey A. Gabieta, Jhunnex Napallacan and Carla P. Gomez, Inquirer Visayas; and Niña P. Calleja, Kristine Felisse Mangunay, Christian V. Esguerra and Marlon Ramos in Manila
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