No case of firecracker ingestion reported, says Garin
MANILA - The Philippines welcomed 2016 with fewer firecracker and stray bullet-related injuries, the Department of Health (DOH) reported on Friday.
In a press briefing, DOH spokesperson Dr. Lyndon Lee-Suy said that as of 6 a.m. on January 1, 2016, it had recorded a total of 384 injuries from firecrackers and stray bullets.
The figure is 53 percent lower compared to last year, and 57 percent lower than than the 5-year (from 2010 to 2014) average.
"It's a confluence of many factors: yung kampanya ng Department of Health, yung naging kampanya sa tulong ng ating media partners, at malaking bagay ang kinontribute nung naging istrikto ang PNP (Philippine National Police) kasi nawala yung mga nagbebenta [ng paputok] sa streets kaya di siya naging ganung ka-available," Health Secretary Janette Garin explained.
Of the total number of injuries, 380 were from fireworks and 4 were from stray bullets.
Of the 380, 219 were caused by the illegal firecracker piccolo and other prohibited fireworks in the country. The following also caused injuries: kwitis (9 percent), 5 star (4 percent), and luces (4 percent).
Majority of the victims (64 percent) were less than 14 years old.
Nine children, Garin said, required amputations, including an 8-year-old boy from Nueva Vizcaya who lost his three fingers due to an injury from kwitis.
Majority of the total injuries (63 percent) were in the National Capital Region: Manila City (30 percent), Quezon City (19 percent), and Marikina City (12 percent).
Despite these, Garin happily reported that no case of firecracker ingestion was recorded in the past days leading up to the New Year celebrations. Last year, there were 7 victims of firecracker ingestion.
GOODBYE PH, GOODBYE VICTIM
Garin, meanwhile, said at least one individual was killed after allegedly hugging the firecracker "Goodbye Philippines" before it exploded. The man was reportedly drunk at the time, she said.
"Hindi po maganda ang kondisyon niya nung dinala siya sa ospital at nung inilipat siya kaagad sa kabilang ospital eh dead on arrival na po siya... Una siyang dinala sa Ospital ng Sampaloc kasi wasak yung kanyang panga at kaagad na inilipat [sa Ospital ng Maynila]," she said.
Lalaki, sinindihan at niyakap ang 'Goodbye PH', patay
The DOH, meantime, reiterated its call for a total firecracker ban in the Philippines in a bid to achieve zero casualty in the coming years.
The health secretary stressed that banning firecrackers for individual use will not gravely affect firework-related businesses.
"Kung titingnan naman po natin, seasonal yung paputok. So it's not really their regular source of income," she said. "Pangalawa, pwede pa naman ang public fireworks display. Yun po ay safe. May kita rin naman sila doon and at the same time, hindi mapeperwisyo yung mga passive na biktima."
Garin also emphasized the need to stop the entry of piccolo in the country. "Kasi kung matanggal ang piccolo eh talaga pong halos wala na pong masasaktan," she said.
She said authorities should investigate how illegal firecrackers are being smuggled into the country, insisting that these are imported and are only being repackaged and labeled "Made in Bulacan."
"Hindi natin conclusively masabi ngunit ang impression at ang mga nakakarating eh nanggagaling daw sa China," said Garin.
The DOH, meanwhile, again reminded the injured to visit the nearest hospital and take anti-tetanus shots, no matter how small their injury is.
The department also stressed the responsibility of parents and guardians to ensure that their surroundings are immediately cleaned up so children will not be tempted to pick up used firecrackers.