Time for Bukidnon to ban firecrackers, says health exec

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 2 Jan) ­– It is time for the local government units in Bukidnon to pass ordinances banning the sale and use of firecrackers in their areas, a health official said.

Dr. Ricardo Reyes, chief of the Bukidnon Provincial Health Office, told MindaNews Thursday the number of injuries have increased every year, adding it is the LGUs who can fully enforce such a measure.

This time last year, there were only five injuries from firecrackers in Bukidnon. As of today, the number has risen to 19 so far, according to initial count by the PHO since December 29.

Reyes noted that hospital staff are still counting and consolidating initial reports received from 20 towns and two cities.

He added that it must be the municipalities and cities who should pass ordinances because they will be at the frontline of enforcement. But he admitted that the provincial government could pass a resolution declaring its policy on firecrackers.

Reyes cited the example of Davao City, which pioneered the banning of firecrackers in Mindanao since 2001. It has been promoting “torotot” or party blowers instead.

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte banned the sale of firecrackers and pyrotechnics during the Christmas season by not issuing vendors and malls business permits. He said the money for fireworks would be better spent on food. He also announced a P5,000 bounty for anyone who could pinpoint on anyone firing a gun during the merrymaking, according to a MindaNews report then.

Recently, the city governments of Kidapawan and Zamboanga were also reported to have banned firecrackers, too.

No fatalities were reported in Bukidnon arising from accidents related to firecrackers or pyrotechnics this week.

But Reyes said a 40-year-old employee of a private company from Malaybalay City suffered an eye injury during the revelries in the run-up to the New Year. The victim was reportedly hit by blasting a “triangle” firecracker. The rest of the cases, Reyes added, were those involving “blasting.”

Of the 19 victims, 8 were reported from hospitals in Malaybalay City, 7 from Maramag, and the rest from other towns.

Reyes said aside from one incident of blasting reported through the DOH regional office, the PHO is yet to obtain reports from hospitals in Manolo Fortich and Valencia City.

According to the initial report obtained from local hospitals, the youngest victim was a five-year-old child. Reyes could not reveal further details as of Thursday afternoon as they are still collecting and consolidating reports from other hospitals and rural health units (RHUs).

The PHO, as of January 2 last year, reported a total of five injuries due to firecrackers and other pyrotechnics in Bukidnon during the New Year’s Eve revelry.

Engr. Florissa Adviento, chief of the PHO’s environmental and occupational health services, said Wednesday the figure includes reports from the Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center, Bukidnon Provincial Hospital in Kalilangan, San Fernando, and Malitbog and the Municipal Health Office of Pangantucan. She noted that so far the reports from Maramag and Valencia City, home of the biggest number of injuries in past revelries, have yet to submit by then.

Three of the cases last year were reported from Malaybalay City. Two of those injured were children, “KD” and “RMV”, both aged 9, who suffered finger burns due to “Piccolo” and superficial skin burn due to pyrotechnic flame, respectively.

The Municipal Health Office of Pangantucan also reported that a seven-year-old boy was hit by blast burn due to an unidentified firecracker. No injuries were reported by the BPH in San Fernando and Malitbog.

Reyes said he is expressing his “personal opinion” so far on the banning as he has not officially discussed it with provincial officials.

He said the problem with firecrackers is that it is sold indiscriminately that even minors have access.