No injury was reported during the New Year festivities in Puerto Princesa even as the city government diverged from a strict ban pursued by many local government units around the country and relaxed the selling of firecrackers.
P/Maj. Mhardie Azares, spokesperson of the Puerto Princesa City Police Office (PPCPO), on Friday morning said except for a complaint about a stray bullet that nearly hit an infant in Barangay Sicsican, no fireworks-related injury was reported to the local police office.
“Sa PNP, wala kaming record sa incident ng mga paputok. ‘Yon lang talaga ‘yong sa stray bullet, pero inaaksyunan na ng PNP,” Azares said.
Lawyer Arnel Pedrosa, in an earlier statement to Palawan News, said that no national directive was issued prohibiting the selling and use of firecrackers.
This, after the national inter-agency task force (IATF) “strongly recommended” to the local government units (LGUs) to enforce measures in regulating the use of firecrackers during the New Year’s Eve revelry, which it said may cause mass gatherings.
In Metro Manila, Pasay City announced a total ban, and similar orders were issued by Mandaluyong, San Juan, Marikina, Parañaque, Valenzuela, and Pasig. Other major cities that enforced the ban on firecrackers include Zamboanga City and the entire Bicol Region.
In its statement, the Department of Health (DOH) stated that it has recorded an 85 percent decrease in fireworks injuries for 2021 in the Philippines.
Only a total of 50 fireworks-related injuries from 21 December 2020 to 1 January 2021, with no cases of firework ingestion nor death reported. Of the 50 injuries, 49 were fireworks-related injuries and 1 was a stray bullet injury.
This is 85 percent lower than the 340 total cases reported last year. Likewise, the number of cases this year is 89 percent lower than the 5-year average (2015-2019).
“The significant reduction in the total number of recorded cases may be attributed to the far-reaching effects of the COVID-19 pandemic affecting people’s willingness and ability to celebrate through the use of fireworks. It may also be attributed to the strengthened initiatives of our local government units in banning firecrackers and the efforts of the national government agencies and stakeholders through the Iwas Paputok campaign,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.
Top fireworks causing injuries were Kwitis (29%), Boga (8%), 5-Star (8%), Fountain (8%), and Triangle (8%). Legal fireworks caused 55% of all injuries while illegal fireworks at 37%. Let us be reminded that fireworks, whether legal or illegal, are still dangerous not only to our safety but also to the environment.
While a zero fireworks-related injury was reported here, one incident of indiscriminate firing incident was reported in the village of Sicsican. A stray bullet was reported by a certain Joanne Cilindro Estepa, who claimed that her one-month-old son was narrowly missed by it.
Estepa was inside the attic room of her in-laws’ house when she heard a loud noise past 1 a.m. when she saw the slug inches away from her baby.
Azares said that no “muzzle taping” was done during the year-end for the firearms of the police officers, citing it may be a “cause of concern during response”. (with reports from Aira Genesa Magdayao)