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PNP chief breaks silence with New Year call: zero death

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Ronald dela Rosa INQUIRER PHOTO / GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

The Philippine National Police chief on Sunday called for “zero death and the lowest number of injuries” during New Year’s Eve celebrations as nine more people joined an expanding list of firecracker-injured revelers hours before Filipinos welcome 2018.

“I am appealing to your sense of urgency. Let us make this New Year’s celebration the safest ever for everyone by achieving zero death and the lowest number of injuries,” the PNP chief, Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, said in a statement, breaking three days of silence after 10 officers from the Mandaluyong police force killed two people they had mistaken for criminals.

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Dela Rosa urged regional police directors to press their commanders to “perform best.”

“Remember always that the number of casualties in your respective areas of responsibility is reflective of your kind of leadership,” he said.

Dela Rosa had not been heard from since Thursday night, when Jonalyn Anilao (not Ambaon as reported earlier) and Jomar Hayawun died and two others wounded in a hail of bullets fired by 10 Mandaluyong policemen on a vehicle carrying Anilao to hospital after she had been shot in a dispute over parking earlier.

Mandaluyong incident

The officers had been called to respond to a shooting at Shaw Boulevard and Old Wack Wack Road. They mistook a vehicle carrying Anilao to hospital for the vehicle of alleged shooters.

They surrounded the vehicle and ordered the occupants out but fired when they were told that a shooting victim was aboard.

The officers fired at least 36 rounds into the vehicle, killing the wounded Anilao and Hayawun outright and wounding Hayawun’s coworkers Eliseo Aluad and Danilo Santiago.

A furious Director Oscar Albayalde, National Capital Region Police Office chief, sacked the 10 policemen and the Mandaluyong police chief, Senior Supt. Moises Villaceran, and ordered an investigation of the shooting.

Dela Rosa did not mention the incident in his statement.

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On Friday, Twitter user @FilY0 posted a meme looking for the PNP chief and describing him as a “missing person.”

The tweet had since been liked nearly 3,000 times and reshared more than a thousand times.

Filipinos traditionally welcome the new year with a bang—with fireworks and firework displays that almost

always end in hospitals for many revelers.

Undisciplined police and gun owners add to the casualty count through celebratory gunfire.

Last year, the Department of Health (DOH) reported 630 firecracker injuries during New Year celebrations, but no deaths from the use of firecrackers.

Twenty-two stray bullet cases were recorded, with one death—a 15-year-old girl in Malabon City.

Fewer injuries are expected this year, with curbs on the use of fireworks introduced by President Duterte through Executive Order No. 28, designating fireworks display zones and requiring police permit for the use of firecrackers.

Bull-roarers—large fireworks that go off like grenades such as “Goodbye, Earth”— have been banned.

86 so far

On Sunday, the DOH reported nine new cases of firecracker injuries, bringing to 86 the total number of people hurt in playing with fireworks since Dec. 21, the start of the monitoring period for such

injuries.

The DOH said the figure was 47 percent, or 76 cases, lower than the same period last year.

Many of the cases were reported  in Metropolitan Manila. Of the 44 cases in the metropolis, 25 were in Manila.

“Piccolo,” an illegal firecracker, was behind most of the injuries, the DOH said.

Thirty-two cases were reported in the Bicol region, 26 of them involving piccolo, the agency said.

The DOH also reported 18 people injured in playing with firecrackers in the provinces of North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and the cities of Cotabato, Kidapawan, Tacurong, Koronadal and General Santos in central Mindanao.  —With reports from Edwin Fernandez and Judy Quiros

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TAGS: Bato dela Rosa, New Year 2018, PNP‎, Ronald dela Rosa
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