MANILA – A three year-old boy's right hand was amputated while a teenage girl was in a coma after being hit by a stray bullet as Filipinos welcomed 2017 with fewer firecracker-related injuries, the government said Sunday.
The boy from Cabanatuan City north of the capital, whose right hand was cut off, was among five amputees in the run-up to the new year, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said.
The 15-year-old girl from Malabon City was breathing through a ventilator in the hospital on Sunday after she suffered a "near-fatal" shot to the head on New Year's Eve, Ubial said, adding both victims were bystanders.
The Department of Health tallied 350 injuries as of 6 a.m. Sunday, which is 60 percent lower compared to the previous year and the average from 2011 to 2015. Nearly six in 10 cases, or 58 percent, involved children.
Ubial said the "remarkable decline" was due to the government's campaign to watch public fireworks displays instead of mounting ones in front of their homes.
President Rodrigo Duterte's tough stand against fireworks also helped, Ubial said. Duterte banned fireworks in Davao during his long tenure as mayor though it has not been implemented on a national scale.
"They have this impression that somehow they will get caught or they will be punished if they do fireworks and firecrackers," Ubial said.
“Eventually, we do hope that we will attain zero casualties from fireworks and firecrackers during the holidays,” Ubial told reporters.
Ubial said 38 percent of the injuries were due to piccolo, a cheap and readily available variant that is the subject of the government’s annual crackdown.
Thirteen percent of the injuries were due to “kwitis” (rocket) while five percent were each caused by “luces” (sparklers) and fountain, she said.