Most people celebrate joyous occasions with firecrackers. But is it really safe to use them? Should they be banned for posing danger to human and environment?
Newly-wed Crispin Mendoza lost his finger to boga (improvised canon) when he and his wife Ryzza celebrated their wedding in Dagupan City, northern Luzon, making him one of 42 victims of banned firecrackers during the holiday season, officials said.
Mendoza, 29, was operated on at Region 1 Medical Centre (RIMC) in the evening of December 24. Since December 21, when authorities started counting incidents, three of Mendoza’s ill-fated town mates were also treated at RIMC due to two of the eight banned firecrackers — atomic big triangulo, good-bye earth, boga, judas belt, piccolo, super lolo, triangulo, and whistle bomb, said Dr. Noel Manaois, head of RIMC’s Hospital Emergency Management Service.
Of the 42 injured nationwide, 24 were from Metro Manila’s National Capital Region (NCR); 18 from other parts of the Philippines. Among them, 26 were injured by piccolo; four by boga; three by whistle-bomb; and the rest nine by the other banned firecrackers.
The 42 cases are “more than 75% lower than the five-year average of firecracker-related injuries in the Philippines,” the health department’s epidemiology bureau said.
“Despite these reported injuries, many people are now behaving properly. They are no longer putting themselves, and the people around them, in danger,” argued DOH Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo.
Public hospitals have declared their respective ‘code white’’ since December 20, in anticipation of injuries during the holiday season, said Bayugo, adding that code white is often declared during elections, major holidays, and rallies.
“Local hospitals and health centers provide free medical assistance to those who could not pay,” announced Bayugo.
The health department took to radio and TV to warn the public about the dangers of firecrackers. “Everyone is invited to go to designated community based- fireworks display areas,” the department of interior and local government (DILG) said on radio and TV.
Those who light illegal firecrackers outside of firecracker zones and inside designated fireworks community display areas will be arrested, the police warned.
“Let us all have a safe New Year celebration,” Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said in a statement.
Since December 16, authorities have arrested six people — one in Ilocos, northern Luzon; five in the Visayas, central Philippines — for selling illegal firecrackers, the police said, adding that three more — two from Cagayan region and one in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), both in the southern Philippines — are being pursued for pushing illegal firecrackers.
To enforce a firecracker ban, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order number 28 last June 2017. He limited the use of fireworks to prevent deaths during New Year revelries when he was mayor of Davao City for two decades.