SouthCot to launch year-round info campaign vs firecrackers

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 15 Jan) – Health authorities in South Cotabato province are planning to launch a year-round information and education campaign against the selling and use of firecrackers and pyrotechnics after the area’s injury cases during the recent Christmas season reached a total of 104.

Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., South Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) chief, said Wednesday they are looking at including the anti-firecracker campaign in their regular health awareness initiatives throughout the year.

He said such move is mainly aimed at educating early the province’s residents, especially the children, on the perils of using firecrackers and fireworks.

“To effectively reduce our (firecracker-related) injury cases, I think we need to reach out to more residents and make them properly informed or aware of these risks,” he said in a media forum.

Aturdido said the planned year-round anti-firecracker campaign will focus on local communities and schools, especially among school children.

Citing a report from the IPHO’s provincial epidemiology and surveillance unit (PESU), he noted that the province’s firecracker-related injuries increased by 21 percent or from 86 in 2012 to 104 in the last Christmas season.

The PESU report was based on the injury cases recorded by various hospitals in the province and in this city as of January 9.

Aturdido said 50 cases or 48 percent of the 104 firecracker-related injuries involved children aged 10 and below.

He said the youngest victim was a two-year-old boy while the oldest was a 66-year-old grandfather, who both suffered injuries due to an explosion of the banned piccolo firecracker.

There were 35 victims in the 11-20 age range, 6 in 21-30, 7 in 31-40, 4 in 41-50, and 2 in 51-66.

Of the 104 victims, he said 97 were considered as active firecracker users while the remaining 7 were listed as passive.

Aturdido said 98 of the victims suffered minor blast and burn injuries that did not require amputation while 2 required the amputation of fingers.

He said piccolo caused the most number of injuries with 78 cases followed by kwitis with 10 and five-star triangulo with 4.

The official said Koronadal City posted the most number of injuries with 36; Surallah and Tupi towns with 14 each; Polomolok with 10; T’boli with 9; Norala with 8; Lake Sebu with 6; Banga, Tantangan and Sto. Nino with 2 each; and Tampakan with 1.

Owing to this, board member Agustin Demaala said he has refiled his proposed ordinance that seeks a total ban on the selling and use of firecrackers within the province’s 10 towns and lone city.

In November, Demaala filed a proposed measure seeking a firecracker ban in the province but eventually shelved it last month in favor of a resolution that called for the strict implementation of the firecrackers and pyrotechnics law.

The resolution specifically urged the Philippine National Police in the province to ensure that the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 7183 or the “Act Regulating the Sale, Manufacture, Distribution and Use of Firecrackers and other Pyrotechnic Devices” are properly enforced.

Under RA 7183, firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices that have more than the allowable explosive content are strictly prohibited.

Among the banned materials are watusi or the “dancing firecracker,” piccolo, super lolo, atomic big triangulo, mother rockets, lolo thunder, pillbox, boga, big Judah’s belt, big bawang, goodbye Philippines, kabasi, five star, pla-pla, OG, giant whistle bomb and unlabeled firecrackers.

Demaala reiterated that the enforcement of RA 7183 posed problems for local enforcers as it is selective and regulatory in nature.

“It’s easier to implement a total ban (on firecrackers and fireworks) than a selective measure,” the official said.

He cited the experiences of Zamboanga City, North Cotabato and Davao City, which recorded zero injuries in the last Christmas season due to their total firecracker ban.

Demaala added that the provincial board will conduct a public hearing and consultation on January 30 for his proposed ordinance.