New Year revelry kills child, injures 697 people-A A +A
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
MANILA (Updated) -- The number of firework-related injuries during the New Year revelries has soared to 697 but still remains lower than last year's figure, a health official said Wednesday.
As of 6 a.m. Wednesday, 675 injuries due to fireworks, 20 stray bullet cases, and two firework ingestion cases have been recorded, Assistant Health Secretary Eric Tayag said in his Twitter account.
He noted that this year's number is 29 percent lower than the 984 injuries recorded in the same period in 2012.
Earlier, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the most serious case of firecracker injury involved a 17-year-old man from Valenzuela City, who used a "Goodbye Philippines" firecracker that exploded in his right hand. It even led to the amputation of the victim's damaged hand.
By comparison, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported a lower number of firecracker injuries.
The agency said a total of 680 firework-related injuries were recorded in Metro Manila and in other regions as of 6 a.m. Wednesday.
Metro Manila has the biggest number of firework-related injuries with 214, followed by Ilocos region with 126 and Central Luzon with 97.
So far, a seven-year-old child identified as Stephanie Ella from Caloocan City died after being hit by a stray bullet at the top of her head. Malacanang has since denounced the incident.
The NDRRMC also reported that a four-year-old child, identified as Ranjelo Nimer from Mandaluyong City, was killed by a stray bullet fired by a certain Emmanuel Janabon around 9 p.m. of December 31.
However, the Philippine National Police (PNP) clarified that they are not including Nimer among the stray bullet victims.
Nimer was hit when Janabon, who has been arrested, fired a homemade shotgun or "sumpak."
The boy was rushed to the Mandaluyong Medical Center but was declared dead on arrival.
While welcoming the reduced number of firecracker-related injuries, an environmental group expressed support for a total ban in the hope of realizing zero injury, zero emission and zero waste New Year’s celebrations in the future.
"Without a shred of doubt, this injurious and wasteful tradition is at odds with the state vision of ‘health for all’ and a ‘Green Philippines’ amid the global climate crisis,” said Edwin Alejo, coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition.
However, the group recognized the efforts of the DOH, particularly Tayag, for taking up the cudgels on behalf of vulnerable sectors, especially the children.
Tayag was seen dancing the hit Korean song "Gangnam Style" to encourage the public to do alternative modes of celebrating the New Year.
House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. also backed the position of President Benigno Aquino III to ban all types of firecrackers.
“A total ban on the use of firecrackers is worth considering in a bid to spare Filipinos from fireworks-related deaths and injuries during the celebration of New Year,” Belmonte said.
For her part, Zambales Representative Mitos Magsaysay blamed the failure of concerned authorities to implement existing laws on banned firecrackers.
“It just shows the failure of the government to implement existing laws. Concerned agencies have failed to enforce the laws strictly,” she said.
Meanwhile, the House committee on public order and safety is yet to act on House Resolution 2914 filed by Quezon City Representative Winston Castelo asking Congress to task the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to regulate the use of sky lanterns during the holiday season.
Castelo warned of possible environmental hazards from sky lanterns.
Agham party-list Representative Angelo Palmones also filed House Resolution 2909 requesting a House panel inquiry on the proliferation and use of sky lanterns during special occasions, in aid of legislation.
The Bureau of Fire Protection had advised the public not to use sky lanterns in populated areas.
The NDRRMC reported at least seven fire incidents on December 31 and January 1 but the causes of the fires have yet to be determined, whether they are related to firecracker use.
Among the fire incidents reported by the agency was the one that razed 15 houses in Barangay Commonwealth, Fairview, Quezon City past Tuesday midnight.
The fire reached fourth alarm and was declared out at 1:50 a.m. The estimated damage amounts to P300,000.
Also past Tuesday midnight, a fire hit a two-storey building in Barangay E. Rodriguez, Cubao, Quezon City, destroying property worth about P1 million.
In an earlier radio interview, BFP National Capital Region Chief Inspector Renato Marcial said 12 fire incidents in Metro Manila were reported during the New Year celebrations. (Emmanuel Louis Bacani/Virgil Lopez/Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)