By Robert B. Roque, Jr.
The whole of Asia seemed to have behaved its best in the recent New Year’s Eve celebration.
Surprisingly, even the Philippines bit the bullet and woke up to the first day of the year with no one kicking the bucket – a big improvement as compared with previous years that saw several up to dozens of people killed by firecracker explosions and stray bullets.
Even the number of injured revelers sharply dropped this year to 191 as compared with over 630 hurt in the riotous welcome to the previous year.
Definitely, the strict enforcement of the new policy regulating the use of firecrackers and the police’s early campaign operation and surprise inspections at stores selling pyrotechnics had something to do with it.
While there’s no way of totally stopping the tradition of making the last night of the year literally an explosive one, Firing Line hopes the newest casualty figures reflect a trend of straining interest in firecrackers and guns among Pinoys.
A tamed and behaved Year of the Dog, perhaps?
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Although it’s good to know that no one died by firecrackers or stray bullets as we welcomed 2018, we could not turn our backs on the fact that 191 people were injured by ‘cracker explosions since December 21.
Among the banned firecrackers, Piccolo remained the leading cause of injuries with 94 cases. This was followed by “kwitis” with 14 cases. Most of the victims suffered hand injuries.
Records from the National Capital Region Police Office showed that 60 percent of fireworks-related injuries nationwide or a total of 115 cases came from Metro Manila. Next was Western Visayas with 15 cases. Calabarzon, Central Luzon and Bicol had 13 cases each.
Manila led the number of injuries in Metro Manila at 63. This was followed by Quezon City with 14, Pasig City at 11 and Valenzuela with six. But these numbers could still increase in the coming days.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the total cases recorded since December 21, 2017 was the biggest reduction which was 68 percent lower than in the same period last year.
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It is an undeniable fact that the government can be credited with the zero-fatality achievement.
However, the campaign against illegal firecrackers still cannot be considered a great success as long as there are a number of people who lost an arm or some fingers during the celebration.
Firing Line wants to know how in the world did Piccolo remain the top culprit with 94 victims? The authorities apparently missed out on imported firecrackers being smuggled in like Piccolo, which is manufactured in China. They should have widened their watch and covered all angles in the campaign.
As long as imported firecrackers find their way to our people and the injuries continue, the campaign against firecrackers can only be deemed a partial success.
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