MANILA, Philippines -- The number of firecracker-related injuries in the country dropped by 17 percent this year, Health Chief Enrique Ona said on Tuesday.
The drop in injuries may be attributed to the "Gangnam Style" dance, which was used by Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag for the Department of Health's campaign against the use of firecrackers during the New Year celebrations.
"Baka nga naman successful 'yung Gangnam dance ni Eric. That is the reason why there is a 17 percent reduction of injuries," Ona told reporters in a press briefing at the East Avenue Medical Center.
"Pwede nating ulitin 'yun next year at maghanap na naman tayo ng bagong style," he added.
As of 6 a.m. Tuesday, the DOH reported that the total number of firecracker-related injuries since December 21 has reached 413, with over 50 percent of the victims comprised of children below 10 years old.
The DOH said 404 were injured due to fireworks, eight were hit by stray bullets and one ingested fireworks.
Of those hit by stray bullets, five were from Cotabato City.
Half of the firecracker victims were also only "passive," meaning they were not the ones who used the firecrackers.
Ona said there was a reduction of a total of 85 injuries or 17 percent from the firecracker-related incidents recorded on the same period last year.
"Mukha namang maayos-ayos ang ating naging resulta this year. There was a significant decrease in the number of injuries," he said.
"But we would have wanted na wala talagang serious injuries," he added.
Ona said no casualties have been reported yet. One victim, however, is still in critical condition after being hit in the head by a stray bullet.
The DOH also reported a single case of hand amputation.
"Instead 'Goodbye Philippines', naging 'Goodbye Kamay'," the health chief said.
Common firecracker zones
Ona said the health department believes the number of firecracker-related injuries can still be further reduced if only local government units strictly implement laws on banned firecrackers during the holiday season.
"There has to be a very strict implementation of the law dahil 54 percent of the injuries were due to prohibited fireworks."
"Siguro if our LGUs will even be more strict in implementing 'yung batas, itong pagbebenta ng illegal firecrackers, baka magkaroon tayo ng significant reduction," he said.
The health secretary added that it would also help if LGUs designate common firecracker zones where people can watch together fireworks displays.
"Control or strict regulation with regards to where the public can watch beautiful fireworks. Manood na lang, sabayan ang celebration rather than allowing the public, especially children, to buy and at the same time be able to light the firecrackers," he said.
"If it becomes a national program, para bang iibahin lang natin ang kultura ng celebration natin ng New Year," Ona added.