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Public urged anew to refrain from lighting firecrackers

MANILA, Philippines - A week before the New Year, the government and a green advocacy group called again for a safe and climate-friendly welcome to 2010.

Environment Secretary Lito Atienza urged the public to refrain from lighting firecrackers as these are dangerous not only to public health but also to the environment.

“Firecrackers emit toxic substances that could trigger asthma, allergy and other illnesses among vulnerable sectors of our society, such as our children and elders,” he said.

“At the same time, the fumes from blasting firecrackers aggravate the pollution load of Metro Manila’s sky, which remains dirty to this day.”

Atienza said while the past years saw an air quality in Metro Manila improve, it is not yet that ideal.

“We still have to do more, and one way where everyone can share in the effort is to refrain from lighting a firecracker this New Year,” he said.

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On the other hand, the EcoWaste Coalition intensified its advocacy for ecological alternatives to firecrackers and fireworks to welcome the New Year.

Through the “Iwas PapuToxic” drive at Our Lady of Remedies Parish in Malate, Manila over the weekend, Manny Calonzo, EcoWaste president said: “With 2010 just around the corner and the likelihood of bloody and filthy welcome rites happening again for the nth time, we, together with the Care for the Earth Ministry of the Our Lady of Remedies Parish held the Iwas PapuToxic campaign to encourage the public anew not to blast firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices to hail the New Year.”

An ensemble of 30 children from the Children’s Ministry of the parish danced and created sounds with enthusiasm using improvised noisemakers fashioned from recycled materials like bottle caps, tin cans, containers, pot lids and washing pans.

Other participants unfurled a banner and held placards with the message: “Say no to firecrackers for a safe and climate-friendly New Year.”

Citing latest government tally, EcoWaste said that between Dec. 21 to 26, around 54 Filipinos have suffered from various injuries due to blasting firecrackers.

Firecracker-related fires killed three people in Mandaue City on Dec. 24 and another three in General Santos City on Christmas Day, the group added.

“The unfolding climate crisis should discourage us from wasting resources and causing pollution that is inflicting harm to health and the environment. Let us heed the clarion call for a safe and climate-friendly New Year revelry without exacerbating the pollution in our communities,” said Fr. John Leydon, parish priest of Our Lady of Remedies Parish.

John Albert Sicat, of the Children’s Ministry, stressed that blasting firecrackers can cause not only serious injury to people but also fire, which can damage the environment, properties and even claim lives of people.

Aileen Lucero, Iwas PapuToxic campaigner of EcoWaste, said exploding firecrackers and fireworks is akin to setting hard-earned pesos on fire, while also exposing oneself as well as children and animals around to extreme noise, physical hazard, and toxic residues. – Katherine Adraneda

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