‘Historic low’ firecracker use and injuries in last days of 2018

December 31, 2018 - 6:26 PM
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Fireworks on New Year Interaksyon
File photo of fireworks in Quezon City. (Interaksyon/file photo)

The government lauded the lower number of firecracker-related injuries in the final days of 2018, citing both continuous rain showers and effective implementation of the executive order limiting firecracker use.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque on Monday, December 31 announced hours before the height of the New Year’s Eve celebrations that there were only nine cases of firecracker and pyrotechnic-related injuries in the entire National Capital Region on the final day of the year. The record was a “historic low” in the region, he said during a media conference.

Department of Health officials later confirmed that the rainy weather experienced around the Philippines in the days before the New Year and effective implementation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 28 which limits use of firecrackers to “community fireworks display” overseen by the police.

There are 55 firecracker and fireworks-related injuries recorded by the DOH since December 21 up until December 31 as of press time.

The health agency said that the number is 50 percent lower than that from the same period last year and 75 percent lower than the five-average from 2012 to 2017.

It urged Filipinos to seek alternatives to using dangerous firecrackers.

The Philippine National Police, which is leading the crackdown on illegal firecrackers, also circulated a list of the prohibited products and the penalty imposed on violators.

Some Filipinos meanwhile urged others to refrain from participating in the use of pyrotechnics, citing how pets and animals are easily distressed by the noise caused by the New Year’s celebrations.

Goodbye, firecrackers?

The use of firecrackers and fireworks to celebrate the coming of the New Year has been practiced by Filipinos since Spanish colonial rule. It originated from the Chinese tradition of using firecrackers to drive away bad luck and bad spirits at the start of the New Year.

Concerns raised over the rising number of injuries every year, harm to pets and animals and even environmental damage  led to clamor to regulate or even totally ban the practice.

The Department of Health reported a low number of firecracker-related injuries during the 2017 year-end festivities after Executive Order 28 was passed. It recorded 191 firecracker-related injuries from December 21, 2017 to January 1, 2018, a 68 percent drop from the number recorded during the same period in 2016 to 2017 and a 77 percent drop from the five-year average from 2012 to 2016.

Some local government units are also enforcing a strict policy on firecrackers for the welcome of 2019.

Davao City has a standing ordinance, which has been in place for several years, totally banning firecracker and pyrotechnic use.

The city of Las Piñas on Sunday, December 30 also declared a total firecracker ban. Violators may be imprisoned anywhere between three to six months and fined P1,000 to P5,000 pesos.