CATHOLIC prelates urged the public on Wednesday to buy food for the less fortunate instead of firecrackers to welcome the New Year.

“As preventive measure against injury and lifetime regret for a list of bodily part let us forgo firecrackers. Much more what we save from buying firecrackers we give the amount for social services to our parishioners in need,” said Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos in a pastoral statement.

“This is our corporal acts of charity as we celebrate the jubilee of mercy. As we are grateful for the blessings of 2015, let us share our blessings by giving media noche or bags of foodstuffs to our poor parishioners," he added.

Santos said his diocese has already distributed 100 bags of groceries to the poor, especially street and church sidewalk vendors and street cleaners.

Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo echoed Santos' appeal, saying that those who have more in life should be charitable.

“We should be more generous to the poor. Less firecrackers the better; convert the crackers into charity,” he added.

Traditionally, many Filipinos welcome the New Year through noisemaking using fireworks to drive away bad spirits and attract prosperity.

But the same firecrackers have caused injury and even death to a number of people through the years.

From December 21 to 6 a.m. of December 30, the Department of Health said there are already 148 revelry-related injuries.

“This is 28 cases (16 percent) lower compared to the same period as last year, which was 176,” said the DOH report.

Of the 148 cases, a total of 145 injuries were caused by firecrackers, mostly in the victims’ hands at 110 or 76 percent. Head and eye injuries each recorded 14 cases.

Two blast injuries required amputation.

The DOH said 120 cases involved children who are less than 14 years old while the median age of victims is 11 years old.

Stray bullet victims remained at three, including the nine-year-old girl from Bulacan who died on Christmas Day.

Cases of firecracker ingestion remained at zero.

The National Capital Region still has the highest number of injuries with 67 (45 percent); followed by Bicol Region with 27 (18 percent); and Davao Region with 15 (10 percent). (FP/HDT/Sunnex)