Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial on Monday contradicted a report from the police, maintaining that the teenage girl in critical condition after being hit in the head by a bullet sustained her injuries from a stray bullet and not from deliberate shooting.
Ubial said health officials who visited Emilyn Villanueva, the 15-year-old girl from Malabon City who is now at the intensive care unit of the Jose Reyes Memorial Center, have reason to believe that she is a victim of a stray bullet from indiscriminate firing.
"The theory of the police that this is gunshot or a stray bullet from a gunfire. We still categorize it as stray bullet from indiscriminate firing because the bullet hit the child on the head at the trajectory of a stray bullet, vertical," she said in an interview with ANC's Headstart.
She added the victim's CT scan shows that "it came from the top of the head and it went downward."
Malabon City police on Sunday claimed the teenager was not hit by a stray bullet but was shot by a still unidentified gunman. The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) also asserted that it was a "shooting incident."
Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa earlier promised to use "the full force of law" against revelers and policemen who would ring in the New Year by firing their guns.
Ubial said the DOH does not have the information the police may have regarding activities or firing in the area, but "in terms of the health indicator, the CT scan that we have, the trajectory of the bullet was really from up going downwards."
She also reported that in Glasgow scoring, which gives the most severe brain injury a rate of 3, Villanueva is already at 4.
"The injury is very severe, prognosis is not so good, but we're still praying and hoping that a miracle will happen," she said.
In light of this, Ubial asserted that to stop incidents of indiscriminate shooting in the country, it would take an entire culture change and not simply individuals deciding not to use their gun.
"For Philippine society to find it unacceptable and therefore your friends, your relatives will tell you to not fire your gun," she said.
She added gun owners must still be responsible enough and not use their firearms when intoxicated.
She asserted it may not be the harsh penalties awaiting perpetrators that will stop them from doing the crime, but the certainty of being arrested for it.
"In so many years in the Department of Health of investigating and working on the stray bullet incidents, I think it's really the low probability of getting caught that encourages them to do it once more," she noted.