Editorial: Resolution for new year-A A +A
Sunday, January 6, 2013
HOW should we celebrate every new year?
By honoring life.
The New Year’s eve injuries and deaths that marred the lives of families would achieve some meaning if the senselessness of such a loss will not be repeated again.
These were the words of the father of Stephanie Nicole Ella, seven, who was one of the children felled by a bullet on New Year’s eve.
Despite an aggressive campaign of the government and the media to divert the public from using fireworks to usher in the new year, there were 815 cases of injuries monitored by the Department of Health (DOH) from Dec. 21 to 6 a.m. of Jan. 4,
according to a Sunnex report published in Sun.Star Cebu’s Jan. 4 issue.
The figure is lower to the 990 cases recorded during the same period last year, but it is still a far cry from the zero incidence targeted by DOH.
The DOH will hold in February a consultation to discuss “possible changes in the New Year’s Day practices of Filipinos,” reported Sunnex/Sun.Star Cebu.
Stakeholders should seriously consider banning liquor AND fireworks during Christmas and New Year’s eves.
In TV interviews, adult victims admitted they were exposed to the heavy barrage of anti-fireworks campaigns, reports and public service ads disseminated during the holidays. They were also aware of the dangers of using banned pyrotechnics, trying to re-ignite firecrackers that failed to explode, and other risky ways of handling fireworks.
However, adult victims said they had too much to drink when they had accidents with firecrackers.
The 2012 public campaign against fireworks and for safe, alternative celebrations was educational, intensive and creative. However, the impact was watered down because of irresponsible drinking.
Drunken behavior may also have triggered indiscriminate shooting of firearms.
The tradition of drinking to celebrate the holidays is a reason for alarm, considering that some consume inordinate amounts of alcohol in the series of parties or drinking sessions bridging Christmas eve and New Year’s eve.
If a liquor ban is imposed before and during elections, the high incidence of injuries and deaths caused by firecrackers and indiscriminate firing strongly justifies a similar liquor ban for major holidays, such as Christmas and New Year’s eves.
Parental, barangay accountability
Another pattern gleaned from holiday tragedies is the danger posed by piccolo.
According to the same Sunnex/Sun.Star Cebu report, piccolo injured 223 persons even though it has been banned for the past six years.
Many of those injured by piccolo are children. Despite the ban, piccolo can be bought from street vendors and neighborhood stores. The piccolo is one of the cheapest firecrackers, making this attractive and attainable to children.
The widespread use of piccolo and the subsequent high number of cases of piccolo-related injuries raise questions about community vigilance and barangay officials’ enforcement, aside from parental neglect.
While the DOH campaign emphasized that parents and guardians share the responsibility of ensuring children and minors are safe from firecrackers, this accountability cannot be enforced and thus lacks punitive power.
Yet, there should be measures taken against parents and guardians who drink irresponsibly or use illegal drugs as their negligence leaves their children free to use fireworks, which might injure them or cause fires in their dwelling and their neighbors’.
According to DOH monitoring, 50 percent of the injured were active users of fireworks. Parental and community intervention could significantly affect how new years can spell auspicious beginnings, not tragic conclusions, next year.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 07, 2013.