FEWER injuries caused by firecrackers and drunk drivers marred New Year’s Eve in Cebu in 2009 than in the year before, thanks to a steady campaign to warn the public and a non-stop rain that kept revelers indoors.

At least 57 people in Central Visayas were treated for blast or burn injuries blamed on firecrackers during the Christmas and New Year celebrations, said health officials.

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But Mae Berlin Albios of the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) said that number was lower than the figures from the same period in 2008.

Hours before the New Year began, Health Secretary Francisco Duque reported at least 230 blast or burn injuries in Metro Manila and said he expected double that figure as the celebrations went on.

But with just a few complaints reaching them, police officials declared a peaceful celebration of New Year’s Eve in Cebu and Central Visayas.

Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Lani-o Nerez said there were no major incidents reported within his jurisdiction.

Cebu City Councilor Sylvan Jakosalem said the fact that fewer persons suffered injuries from firecrackers last year showed a raised level of public consciousness and success in the campaign against firecrackers and drunk driving.

“Compared to last year, when we had shooting incidents, last night (Dec. 31), was a peaceful celebration without any shooting incident. No robbery was also recorded,” said Cebu City Police Chief Patrocinio Comendador.

Though there were three stabbing incidents the Cebu City Homicide Section responded to on Thursday and on New Year’s Day, the perpetrators were caught and the victims survived.

“This is very low compared to the past years when we had our hands full in responding to similar cases,” Comendador said.

Stray bullets

In Cebu Province, a burger station was robbed, while a man was stabbed by his brother in Danao City Thursday night. Three other stabbing incidents were also reported to the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO).

Despite those incidents, CCPO Director Jesus Gaquing said peace and order was maintained, with the help of residents.

Of the 57 persons treated for blast or burn injuries, 19 came from Cebu City, said the RESU.

At least five people were victims of stray bullets during the holidays, and four of them died.

The Department of Health 7, RESU’s mother unit, observed a “Code White” since Christmas to ensure that all hospitals will be on full alert during the holidays.

Last Dec. 24, three people—a pregnant woman and two minors—were killed after an accidental firecracker explosion burned over 50 stalls in Mandaue City.

A six-year-old boy in Talisay City died after a “lantaka” or improvised cannon exploded in his face.

The accident in Mandaue prompted local governments in Metro Cebu to tighten regulations on the sale and use of firecrackers.

The only place where one could legitimately sell and explode firecrackers in Cebu City was at the South Road Properties.

‘Unrelenting’

Councilor Jakosalem also said many vehicles were stopped by authorities and City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) enforcers, but not one driver was found drunk.

“I think we have raised the level of consciousness on the dangers of firecrackers and drunk driving through the daily bombardment by the media, which always turns out to be the best tool for these types of campaigns,” he said.

He credited the “unrelenting, non-stop operations of the CCPO (Cebu City Police Office) and Citom on both illegal firecrackers and over-speeding of vehicles.”

Various incidents occupied the police in both Cebu City and Cebu Province during the New Year holidays, two of them cases of domestic violence.

Past 4 a.m. last Friday, Danao City policemen responded to a robbery alarm in Barangay Poblacion.

Richard Mojado Roble, 18, a service crew member of a burger stall on Pio del Pilar St., said he was counting their sales when Jeffrey Bataluna appeared from behind him and grabbed the cash from his hand.

Roble tried to grab the P1,600 cash back but Bataluna allegedly stabbed him, hitting his left hand. Roble went to the Danao City District Hospital for treatment while Bataluna got away.

Pa defended

In Barangay Cogon Cruz, a man stabbed and killed his brother for beating up their father.

Jolito Alforque, 40, reportedly returned home drunk at dawn on New Year’s Day after a night of revelry and mauled his father Francisco, 86.

Francisco called for help, and Joberto, 42, came to the rescue.

When Joberto arrived, Jolito allegedly turned his ire on him, prompting Joberto to grab a bolo and stab his brother.

Jolito suffered stab wounds in his stomach, ribs and chest.

Man and wife

In Barangay Damulog, Sogod, Cebu, Alan Ebale Good, 49, stabbed his wife Julita, 40, with a paring knife after an argument at 11 a.m.

Julita survived her wound but was transferred to a hospital in Cebu City.

Two other arguments also led to stabbing incidents in Pinamungajan and Poro towns.

Gaquing said there were no major incidents in the New Year, which showed that the public has become vigilant, making the celebration “peaceful and accident-free.”