Overall, there were fewer firecracker-related injuries and no fatalities from firecracker accidents were reported across the country this year as people welcomed the New Year.
Two were shot and one was killed in altercations between drinking buddies.
There were no deaths from stray bullets.
Bulacan province with 38 injured topped the list of firecracker-related accidents followed by Region 12 with 18, Ilocos Norte with 17 and Bataan with 2. No one was reported injured in Tarlac.
The latest report received at 11 a.m. on Sunday by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) showed a low count in firecracker injuries in Bulacan with only 38 reported hurt in welcoming 2017.
The province reported no fatalities.
The injured were admitted to district hospitals in Bulacan and the Bulacan Medical Center.
Bulacan PDRRM Executive Officer Liz Mungcal said most of the victims were from the 11 to 15 age bracket.
She added that children aged 8 to 10 were also treated for blast injuries caused by the banned lethal imported toy firecracker known as piccolo.
Very popular among children, piccolo has become the major cause of firecracker-related accidents in the last few years.
The other victims were treated for injuries caused by whistlebomb, five star and Judas belt.
The PDRRMO chief said the number of injuries this year is much lower than the more than 100 firecracker victims recorded last year.
Mungcal added that the implementation of “Oplan Ingat Paputok 2017” contributed greatly to the decrease in the number of of victims this year.
There were no reported victims of stray bullets.
Celso Cruz, chairman emeritus of the Philippine Pyrotechnics Manufacturers and Dealers Association, attributed the decrease in the number of injuries to the intensified police crackdown on the banned or “killer” firecrackers.
He said local manufacturers are now producing safe and high-quality fireworks.
Cruz added that he hopes the industry would continue to produce safe fireworks and be globally competitive in the production and sale of such products.
18 injured in Region 12
In Region 12, aA total of 18 persons were injured, with nine of them from South Cotabato, the Department of Health (DOH12) said on Sunday.
Of the victims, 16 were male and two female aged 5 to 56 years old.
Thirteen of them were active firecracker users while five were passive users, Jenny Ventura, focal person of the DOH 12 firecracker injury monitoring office, said.
Ventura added that the banned piccolo firecracker was the leading cause of injuries.
Based on the Online National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (ONEISS), after South Cotabato, there were 3 victims in Sarangani, 2 in Sultan Kudarat, 2 in Gen. Santos City and one each in North Cotabato and Cotabato City.
“All were sent home after medication and nobody was hit by stray bullets,” Ventura said, adding that DOH monitoring, which started on December 21, will continue until January 5.
Supt. Romeo Galgo Jr., Philippine National Police spokesman in Region 12, said there were fewer firecracker victims in the entire Region 12.
“There were 124 firecracker injuries listed last year. Eighteen against 124, that is 85.5 percent lower compared to [the number]last year.”
“There are 364 more days to go and it will be a New Year again. I hope there will be zero injuries by then. I would like to thank all those who helped in disseminating the message that we should celebrate New Year peacefully, happily and abundantly,” Ventura said.
Farmer shot dead in Ilocos Norte
In Ilocos Norte, a former security guard in Marcos town was arrested for firing a gun while a farmer in Banna town was shot dead by his neighbor and 17 victims of firecracker incidents were recorded in the police stations there.
The suspect who fired a gun was identified as Romulo Piedad Sr, 49, resident of Barangay Fortuna in Marcos town while the victim of the shooting incident was identified as Jefferson Adugal, resident of Barangay Binacag in Banna town.
Senior Inspector Arnel Taladtad, Marcos town chief of police, said Piedad was arrested by police who responded to a report by a concerned citizen who said Piedad tried to kill his brother Roy.
The suspect was already drunk when he went to his brother’s house.
He and his brother continued drinking and soon he confronted his brother about an old grudge, then pulled out his caliber 38 gun, aimed at his brother and fired four times.
Roy was not hit and he tried to grab the gun but the suspect kicked him.
The suspect stopped attacking his brother when his relatives intervened and pacified him.
The relatives called the police immediately.
The suspect had no permit to carry a firearm outside his residence and the gun he used was unlicensed.
Police arrested him and filed cases of indicriminate firing and grave threat.
Agudal was shot dead by his neighbor, a farmer identified as Lowie Marcos, in Barangay Binacag in Banna town at about 2:30 a.m. on January 1.
Senior Inspector Artemio Clemente, Banna station chief of police, said the suspect was drinking liquor when Agudal, who was drunk, arrived at their house and tried to create trouble.
A certain Mariano Marcos confronted the victim and advised him to go home but the victim got angry with him and he pulled out a knife and then tried to stab Mariano but Lowie pacified him.
When Lowie confiscated the knife, he pulled out his gun then shot Agudal three times.
The victim was brought to Don Mariano Marcos Medical Center in Batac City where he was declared dead.
Meanwhile, victims of serious firecracker accidents were identified as Randy Madrid, 42, of Barangay Burayoc, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte; Nathaniel Camo, 35, of Barangay Camanggaan in Laoag City; and John Oswald Bugaoisan, Grade 6 pupil of Barangay Raraburan, also in Laoag City.
They were treated at Gov. Roque Ablan Sr. Memorial Hospital in Laoag City.
Silent celebration in Bataan
In most parts of Bataan, firecracker explosions did not last long but there were still injuries recorded there as people greeted the New Year.
Children were seen blowing torotot or horns while some adults used lusis or sparklers a few minutes before and after midnight.
Just after midnight, a 28-year-old man was brought to the Bataan General Hospital (BGH) in Balanga City because of burns at the back of his head.
His companion said the man lighted a whistle bomb that surprisingly went for him.
There is a total ban on the sale of firecrackers in Bataan.
Local reporters were barred from the BGH emergency ward.
It was not known how many victims of firecrackers were brought to the hospital.
Medical rescuers from Orion, Bataan, however, said they brought to BGH a nine-year-old boy who suffered burns in his hands from lusis.
The boy was injected with anti-tetanus vaccine.
In Tarlac, residents may have learned from lessons of past tragedies as no injuries were reported in the New Year revelry in the province.
A report of the PDRRMO showed that no victims of firecracker-related injuries were admitted to the Tarlac Provincial Hospital or in any other hospital in the province.
Ferdinand Aganon, PDRRMO monitoring team head, said, “This is a good sign that people are already conscious of the effects of becoming victims of firecrackers. It is also a good sign to start the New Year with complete body parts.”
Besides the PDRRMO, the monitoring team is composed of the city and municipal DRRMOs, Ecumenical Christian College, Philippine National Police, Northern Luzon Command and other concerned agencies.