DOH proposes common firecracker zones

by Kathlyn dela Cruz, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Dec 28 2012 02:47 PM | Updated as of Dec 29 2012 04:46 AM

 MANILA, Philippines -- The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday said it will propose that local government units (LGUs) designate common firecracker zones to reduce the number of firecracker-related injuries during the New Year's Eve celebrations.   

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said he wants to control the number of people who use firecrackers by encouraging the public to have common celebrations during the holidays.

This would mean only a small group of people will be allowed to handle firecrackers, he said.

This, after the agency reported that firecracker-related injuries has stopped declining in the last few years.

"Mukhang 'di talaga tayo nakakaabante sa programang pababain natin ang mga disgrasyang nangyayari every time New Year comes," Ona told radio dzMM.

"Klaro po sa ating mga numero na 'di na tayo nagiging successful sa pagpabababa nitong mga disgrasya tuwing Bagong Taon, panahon na dapat  tayo ay nagsasaya. Eh ang lumalabas nandun sila  sa ospital, nag-iiyakan," he added.

Latest data from the DOH show that 107 people, mostly children below 12 years old, sustained firecracker-related injuries in the country from December 21 until December 26.

The figure is still expected to rise as 60 to 70 percent of the firecracker-related incidents occur on New Year's Eve.

"So I think it's time to really decide. I'm going to propose -- 'di naman total ban pero controlled -- 'yung ating sinasabing every community or locality ay mag-identify na ng isang lugar na dun lamang pwedeng magkaroon ng putukan at 'di na 'yung basta-bastang kung sinu-sino lamang ang nakakabili ng fireworks 'cause these are dangerous," Ona said.

The health chief said he is also planning to hold dialogues with manufacturers of firecrackers since a partial ban on firecrackers may have a significant effect on the fireworks industry.

"Dapat magkaroon tayo ng dialogue sa mga manufacturers (ng paputok) para maipaliwanag sa kanila, at mabigyan sila ng pagkakataon at opportunities kung pano naman sila kikita," he said.

Meanwhile, Ona again appealed to the public to always be mindful of the people around them when using firecrackers.

He said almost half of the victims were not the ones who used the firecrackers.

"Whether ikaw ang nagpapatutok o nanonood lang, delikado ka pa rin," he said.