The Department of Health (DOH) has recorded over a hundred firecracker-related injuries.
Health Secretary Janette Garin on Wednesday said monitors have so far listed 148 cases as of 6 a.m. Tuesday.
Most cases (78 percent) involved children playing with a banned firecracker known as piccolo. Two cases had victims losing their fingers.
Garin attributed the lowering of cases to aggressive awareness drive and the intensified crackdown against illegal firecracker vendors.
“We continue appealing to the conscience of the vendors. Stop selling illegal firecrackers,” she said.
“We’re also calling on parents and guardians of minors to safeguard their children. Children are easily enticed, tempted to play with firecrackers. They’re not fully aware of the consequences and children tend to share [the firecrackers]among themselves,” Garin added.
Beware of smuggled fireworks
Las Piñas City (Metro Manila) Rep. Mark Villar also on Wednesday warned the public against illegal and smuggled fireworks.
Villar said fireworks and firecrackers should have mandatory certification by the Bureau of Product Standards (BPS) under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
“Without the Philippine Standard (PS) mark, manufacturers are illegally selling or smuggling their fireworks into the market. They have not complied with the requirements imposed by the Philippine National Standard on fireworks,” he added.
Villar, chairman of the House Committee on Trade and Industry, also called on the Philippine National Police (PNP) to strictly implement Republic Act (RA) 7183.
“Only .02 grams or 1/3 teaspoon of firework/gun powder is allowed per firecracker. Anything more than that is prohibited,” he explained.
“Our consumers should also check if the fuse of the firecrackers burns in less than three seconds or more than six seconds. Should it fall under this category, it would be best to notify PNP,” Villar said.
Under the 2012 Revised IRRs (Implementing Rules and Regulations) Governing the Administration and Enforcement of RA 7183, only the following firecrackers are allowed: baby rocket, bawang, small trianggulo, string pulley, paper caps, El Diablo, Judah’s Belt, kwitis and other types equivalent to the foregoing in explosive content.
Villar urged consumers to always look for sellers’ address or business permits.
‘Buy food for the needy’
The bishop of Balanga in Bataan appealed to people to use the money they have set aside for firecrackers to buy food for the poor instead.
“As preventive measure against injury and lifetime regret for loss of bodily parts, let us forgo firecrackers,” Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos said in a pastoral letter.
“Much more, what we save from buying firecrackers we give the amount for social services to our parishioners in need,” he added.
The bishop said it would be better to “share our blessings by giving Media Noche [Midnight Meal] or bags of foodstuffs to our poor parishioners” as a “corporal act of charity.”
The EcoWaste Coalition conducted an “IwasPaputoxic” outreach program and parade at Barangay Project 6 in Quezon City
“It will take an entire community to protect humans, animals and the ecosystems from the outdated practice of igniting firecrackers and its life-threatening consequences,” Aileen Lucero, coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, said.
According to Lucero, the key role of barangay (village) officials is to prevent injuries, fires, hazardous fumes and wastes during the festivities.
“We call on the over 42,000 barangay across the country to intensify their campaign for a zero injury, zero fire and zero waste New Year revelry,” she said.
Fireworks ban in Makati
The Makati City government continues to implement a total ban on lighting fireworks and firecrackers in three barangay affected by an oil leak in 2010.
Makati City Mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña Jr. also on Wednesday said residents of Bangkal, San Isidro and Pio del Pilar are still not allowed to use fireworks as mandated by City Ordinance 2010-A-020.
Peña added that although most of the fuel in the pipeline owned by First Philippine Industrial Corp. (FPIC) had been pumped out, traces of fumes still pose danger to residents and the general public as these may be ignited by fireworks or firecrackers.
“Since 2010, several remedial measures have been done by the First Philippine Industrial Corp. (FPIC) in cooperation with the city government and its consultant. However, the area has not been totally cleared of gas fumes, so we could not risk lifting the ban at this time,” he said.
Those violating the ban will face a fine of P5,000 or six months’ imprisonment.
The mayor asked residents and visitors in the three barangay to refrain from lighting fireworks and firecrackers, and instead participate in the New Year’s Eve countdown at the University of Makati on December 31 where a 15-minute fireworks display will be held.
Meanwhile, the city government of Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila) also on Wednesday conducted a motorcade and distributed trumpets and candies to raise awareness on the firecracker ban in the city and encourage everyone to use alternative ways to celebrate the holidays.
The firecracker ban in Muntinlupa has been in place since 2011.
Apart from three Makati barangay and Muntinlupa, other cities that ban pyrotechnic devices are Baguio, Olongapo, Davao, Kidapawan and Zamboanga.