Editorial: A quieter, better start

HOW was your community’s New Year’s Eve celebration compared with the ones in the years before? It seemed quieter in Cebu, and the annual tally of those injured during the revelry supports that observation.

At least 54 persons suffered injuries arising from firecracker accidents and stray bullets in Central Visayas since December began until the second day of this new year. The Department of Health 7 said that the recorded injuries were roughly 17 percent less than last year’s cases.

The national figure is even more impressive. Firecracker injuries were 68 percent less than last year’s incidents and 77 percent less than the annual average in the last five years, said Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald dela Rosa. For every 10 persons whose burns emergency room teams had to attend to (or whose fingers they had to reattach) in the last five yearend holidays, only three required attention in the recent days of revelry.

No one died as a result of the festivities.

Of course, the weather played a part. With Vinta active during the Christmas weekend and Agaton approaching in time for New Year’s Eve, parts of the country dealt with the kind of weather that dampened firecracker sellers’ sales. Residents in affected areas were too busy adjusting disrupted travel plans or preparing their homes that the annual purchase of firecrackers had to be put off.

And that was a good thing, because it meant that there was less pollution, less trash on the streets on the morning after, and less strain on hospital workers and public health resources.

Dela Rosa also attributed the improved figures to the enforcement of Executive Order 28, which required local governments to designate limited areas where firecrackers could be used. He said that at least 3,945 community fireworks display zones had been identified and that 74 persons were arrested for possession of illegal firecrackers.

The idea of community fireworks displays needs some tweaking. Should these be paid for using public funds or should these be organized with and co-funded by the private sector? In cities where the New Year’s Eve displays have become massive attractions, like Sydney and London, the security preparations required are also massive and costly. We rather like it that the biggest crowds in the Philippines on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are those in and around churches, as individuals and families celebrate the true joys of the season.
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