By Kenneth Hare Hernanez/Manila Times/Agencies
The Department of Health (DoH)-Epidemiology Bureau has recorded an additional 171 firecracker-related injuries, bringing the total to 362 cases since the start of the surveillance period on December 21, 2017 to January 2.
Out of the 362 cases recorded in sentinel hospitals, 201 came from Metro Manila.
Of the 201, 97 cases came from Manila; 23 cases from Quezon City; 14 from Pasig City; Caloocan City and Marikina City with 12 each; Mandaluyong City with 11 cases; Las Pinas City, 6 cases; and other municipalities with 16.
The Ilocos Region recorded 35 cases; Calabarzon, 34; Western Visayas, 27; Bicol Region, 15; and Central Visayas, 13.
Calabarzon is made up of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon. These cases under the surveillance period are 57% lower than the five-year average from 2012 to 2016.At press time, there have been no recorded deaths and fireworks ingestion.
One stray-bullet case was recorded in Caloocan, according to the Philippine National Police. Majority or 79% of the cases of firecracker injuries were males with ages ranging from 11 months to 69 years and with most of the cases involving boys of 13 year of age.
Illegal firecracker “piccolo” remains as the top cause of the injuries, injuring 129.
Other firecrackers used were “boga” and “five-star.”
Majority or 300 of the cases involved blast injuries without need for amputation; 61 had eye injuries; and 12 were blast injuries with need for amputation.
In June of last year, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order 28, which stipulates the use of firecrackers to be confined or limited only to community fireworks display areas to minimise risk of injuries and casualties.
Earlier on Monday, nearly 200 people were injured during traditionally raucous New Year celebrations in the Philippines, the health minister said.
The order signed in June restricted the noisy explosives to community fireworks displays in an attempt to curb the bloody merrymaking that leaves scores of Filipinos dead or injured each year.
The Philippines is mainly Catholic but the violent New Year festivities draw on ancient superstitions and Chinese traditions, with people firing guns and setting off powerful fireworks in the belief the bangs will drive away bad spirits.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque said 191 people were hurt during the 2018 revelry — down 77% compared to the average over the past five years — but added his department might recommend a total firecracker ban to ensure zero casualties.
“We are relatively pleased — relative because there are still injuries but pleased because of the substantial reduction in fireworks-related injuries,” Duque told reporters as he thanked Duterte for issuing the order.
Asked how to further minimise injuries, Duque said: “I think the end goal really is to ban fireworks completely.”
Duterte, 72, won elections in mid-2016 vowing to strictly enforce law and order measures.
He has also waged an unprecedented drug war which has claimed thousands of lives and led rights groups to warn he may be orchestrating crimes against humanity.
The president’s June order stated that firecrackers may only be used in areas approved by local governments and under the supervision of trained and licensed people.
Duque said most of this year’s injuries occurred on the streets of the capital Manila, with illegal matchstick-sized “piccolo” firecrackers remaining the top cause.
Among those hurt was an 11-month-old baby, he added.
Duterte in 2016 said firecracker-related injuries were a “very serious public health issue”, adding he was concerned about children, who make up most of the victims.
As Davao mayor, he signed in 2002 an ordinance that banned the manufacture, sale, distribution, possession and use of firecrackers in the city.
Duterte’s spokesman said on Monday that the president might consider adopting a total firecracker ban nationwide.
“He might but there may be a need to amend the law,” Harry Roque said.
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