GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/31 Dec) — Calling it the most effective measure in curbing the rising cases of fireworks and firecracker-related injuries, health authorities in Region 12 (Southwestern Mindanao) have endorsed moves for a nationwide ban on firecrackers and pyrotechnics.
Dr. Leonora Lozana, coordinator of the Department of Health (DOH)-Region 12 non-communicable diseases, said Monday they fully support the DOH central office’s plans to push for the passage of a law that would effectively ban the selling and use of firecrackers and pyrotechnics in the country starting next year.
She said the proposed ban, which they explored in a recent health summit, has been proven to be very effective in minimizing and eventually eradicating cases of firework and firecracker-related injuries,especially during the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Lozana specifically cited the case of Davao City, which posted almost zero fireworks and firecracker-related injuries since its firecracker ordinance was passed in 2002.
“It (firecracker ban) may not totally eradicate the injury cases but could potentially reduce them by as much as 90 percent,” she said.
Aside from Davao City, the cities of Baguio and Olongapo have also been implementing a total ban against firecrackers and pyrotechnics.
In 2005, the city council here passed Ordinance No. 11 “prohibiting the manufacture, distribution, sale and use of firecrackers” in the city. But it only pushed for the regulation and control of the manufacture, distribution, sale and use of firecrackers instead of imposing a total ban.
Dr. Conrado Brana, South Cotabato Provincial Hospital chief, said they had proposed a firecracker ban to the provincial government as a measure to prevent cases of firecracker and pyrotechnic-related injuries in the area.
He said the move is aimed at minimizing casualties in the area due to accidental firework and firecracker explosions during the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Dr. Eric Tayag, Health Assistant Secretary and spokesperson, earliersaid they were considering pushing for a total ban on the use of firecrackers and pyrotechnics due to the rising cases of injuries in the last five years.
Despite mounting an intensive campaign on the dangers of using firecrackers, the DOH recorded a total of 44 injuries in the country as of Christmas Eve, exceeding the 43 cases during the same period last year.
In Region 12, Lozana said they have recorded 23 cases of firework and firecracker-related injuries since Dec. 21.
Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
Lozana said 16 of the injury cases were from South Cotabato, four from this city and three from the Cotabato City-based Cotabato Regional Medical Center.
“These figures might possibly increase as the New Year approaches because of the continuing proliferation of firecrackers and fireworks, especially the banned items,” she said.
Lozana specifically noted piccolo, which continues to find its way among local revelers despite being listed as among the banned firecrackers.
In South Cotabato, eight of the recorded injuries in the area so far were caused by piccolo.
Last year, 27 of the 54 total firecracker and fireworks-related injuries recorded during the Christmas and New Year’s Eve revelries in the province were also caused by piccolo.
The DOH-12 earlier launched the “Aksyon: Paputok Injury Reduction” or APIR to highlight its campaign against the use of firecrackers and fireworks.
The campaign reiterates the DoH’s Oplan Iwas Paputok that was started in 1994 to monitor the use of firecrackers, particularly from December 21 to January 4, as well as to minimize the morbidity and mortality from firecracker and firework injuries. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)