Stray bullets and exploding firecrackers have killed two and injured hundreds authorities said Friday, amid the country’s traditional riotous New Year celebrations.
A drunk man died after he embraced a giant firecracker, called “Goodbye Philippines”, as it was about to explode, Health Secretary Janet Garin told reporters.
Ronald Vericio, 45, was first rushed to the Ospital ng Sampaloc, but was transferred to the Ospital ng Maynila where he was declared dead.
“His jaw was shattered. He was so intoxicated he hugged the Goodbye Philippines,” Garin said.
Eighty percent of the country’s 100 million people are Catholic but Filipino superstition dictates making ear-shattering noises during New Year’s Eve to ward off bad luck.
Revelers set off firecrackers and shoot guns into the air to celebrate the December festive season.
But the DOH claimed that the number of firecracker-related injuries during the New Year’s Eve revelry reached an all-time low.
As of 6 a.m. Friday, DOH monitors recorded a total of 384 firecracker-related injuries.
“This is 506 cases (57 percent) lower than the five-year (2010-2014) average and 430 (53 percent) lower compared to the same time period last year. Of the total 384 cases, 380 were from fireworks/firecrackers, four from stray bullets, and there was no case of fireworks/firecrackers ingestion,” Garin said.
A total of 219 out of 380 injuries were caused by piccolo, an illegal firecracker.
Noting that almost 58 percent of the injured victims were children, Garin said it is important to be more aggressive in the coming year to further deter the public from using the said prohibited firecracker in merrymaking activities during the holidays.
“The elimination of piccolo will be a big help in reducing the number of firecracker-related injuries,” she stressed.
Aside from piccolo, other firecrackers that caused injuries include 5 Star (4 percent), kwitis (9 percent), luces (4 percent), and other unknown firecrackers (5 percent).
Lea de Guzman Alipide, president of the Philippine Pyrotechnics Manufacturers and Dealers Association Inc., (PPMDAI) said most revelers now preferred to use the branded and quality types of fireworks.
She said that those who were injured were caused by the banned types of firecracker like piccolo, dynamite, bawang and other over-sized firecrackers.
“We have time and again appealed to the public not to use these banned types because they are not only illegal but highly dangerous as well when there are plenty of quality types of fireworks that are safe and spectacular,” Alipide said.
Most fireworks-related injuries came from Metro Manila with 243 cases (63 percent), followed by Bicol with 31 cases (8 percent), and Calabarzon (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon) with 27 cases (7 percent).
In Metro Manila, most cases were reported from the city of Manila with 73 out of 243 cases (30 percent), 46 cases (19 percent) were from Quezon City and 28 (12 percent) cases from Marikina City.
Garin said the record low number of firecracker-related injuries can be attributed to the efforts of other agencies and organizations such as the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the cooperation of some local government units (LGUs) which organized public fireworks displays for the New Year revelry.
Garin also announced that for the first time, no cases of firecracker ingestion had been recorded.
“We would like to extend our gratitude for the support of other national agencies, the local government units, non-governmental organizations, and the media during the anti-firecracker campaigns. Every year, we see the things that we need to strengthen in order to achieve our goal, and eventually, we do hope that we will attain zero casualties from fireworks/firecrackers during the holidays,” Garin said.
In many hospitals across the country, firecracker victims rushed into emergency rooms grimacing in pain as they held their bloodied limbs.
An eight-year-old boy in the northern farming province of Nueva Vizcaya had three of his fingers amputated after a firecracker exploded in his hands, Garin said. At least nine children had their fingers amputated due to firecracker injuries, she said.
A 34-year-old man was rushed to the Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center (JRMMC) after stepping on an ignited ‘Goodbye Philippines’ firecracker.
The man, who was drunk, was brought to the hospital after his right foot was heavily wrecked by the strong blast of the firecracker.
According to Dr. Felipa Acebedo of the JRRMMC, the victim’s foot would be amputated.
Two people, including a seven-year-old boy, were shot in a case of indiscriminate firing on New Year’s eve.
The victim, Marc Angelo Diego, was hit in the head and was taken to the pediatric intensive care unit of the Ospital ng Makati.
The other victim, 28-year-old John Edward Pascual, was shot four times in the chest.
One of the victim’s father, Marc Anthony, claimed they were successively shot before midnight by a certain Munding who fled onboard a motorcycle.
Police are still investigating the motive of shooting, but it was reported that Munding was involved in indiscriminately firing incidents in the past.
A total of 20 people were taken to the Taguig-Pateros District Hospital over stray bullets and firecrackers-related injuries on New Year’s Eve.
One of the stray bullet victims is 38-year-old Michael Manansala of Barangay Calzada-Tipas who was hit in the chest. He remains under observation at the emergency room because the bullet was lodged in his liver.
According to his relatives, Manansala was watching a fireworks display outside their house when he suddenly felt a pain in his chest.
Antonio Boongalang, 63, of Barangay South Signal was also hit by a stray bullet in the foot. He was inside his house when a bullet pierced through the roof and hit him.
A 72-year-old man was taken to a rural health center after he was hit by a stray bullet in Barangay Poblacion in Muñoz town.
Police identified victim as Emmanuel Dacanay, a resident of T. Delos Santos Street. Investigation disclosed that the victim was drinking with cousins when he felt something hitting his back.
“Someone threw a stone,” he reportedly said until he found blood oozing to his lower back.
Investigators recovered one slug from a cal. 45 pistol which is now subject to a ballistic test.
Police recorded 13 firecrackers incidents in the province — one in Palayan City; Aliaga, 2; Talavera, 2; and Gapan City, 8.
The number of firecracker victims treated at the government-owned Bataan General Hospital (BGH) in Balanga City is lowered by more than 50 percent compared to last year.
From the Aksiyon Paputok Injury Reduction board at the BGH Emergency Ward, there were seven firecracker victims from December 21 to January 1, compared to 18 from December 21, 2014 to January 5, 2015.
Of the seven, four minor injuries were caused by piccolo and one each from five star, whistle bomb and boga (an improvised cannon).
The youngest victim is 13 years old while the oldest is 33 years old. Of those injured due to firecracker use, six are male and one female.
WITH JAIME R. PILAPIL, MICHAEL JOE T. DELIZO, ANTHONY VARGAS, LEANDER C. DOMINGO, ERNIE ESCONDE, AFP AND PNA