Firecracker, stray bullet injuries continue to rise
(The Philippine Star) - December 27, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Five days ahead of the New Year, the number of firecracker injuries recorded by the Department of Health (DOH) has increased to 72, with piccolo as the leading cause of injury.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said 37 of the 72 cases reported were caused by piccolo, an imported firecracker.

Ona has given parents the task of ensuring that their children will not use any type of firecracker.

“It has always been the responsibility of the police to be on the lookout for piccolo... (but) I think a more informed public is what we really need. There is too much freedom in the country and there are also many children playing around,” he said.

Ona underscored the need for a law that will make parents responsible for their children playing with firecrackers.

Based on the DOH’s Iwas Paputok Injury Registry, 66 of the firecracker cases sustained blast injuries not requiring amputation, while seven were eye injuries. There was no new case of fireworks ingestion.

Eighteen of the victims were children below 10 years old.

Officials also reported a total of 11 children were injured by firecracker blasts during Christmas Day in Cagayan de Oro City.

Ona also expressed alarm that 42 percent of the victims were passive users or did not actually use firecrackers.

“Many of them are just watching those using fireworks but still get injured and it’s saddening,” he said.

“But what is also worrisome is that we now have four injuries from stray bullets... We’d like to remind gun owners to seriously think of what that particular gun can do to others,” he added.

The DOH also monitored three new cases of stray bullet injury from 6 a.m. of Dec. 25 to 6 a.m. of Dec. 26, bringing the total to four.

One of the victims was a 17-year-old male from Taguig City who was hit by a stray bullet on the back while inside his house. He was rushed to Rizal Medical Center.

The other victims included a 65-year-old male from Mandaue City who was hit on his left leg and a 40-year-old male from Naga City who was also hit on the left leg while urinating outside his house.

“While we are celebrating the New Year, enjoying the holiday, don’t forget that accidents can always and may happen. Many people are still suffering from the calamities that hit our country so don’t add (to that),” Ona said. 

The police, for their part, said that on Christmas Day, Marlon Calo of Pagadian City reported that a stray bullet hit the house of his aunt at Purok Palmera, San Pedro District.

A 31-year-old housewife in Iloilo City was hit by a stray bullet as she was preparing their noche buena on Dec. 24.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima called on public vigilance for the immediate arrest of violators.

“What we need is the vigilance of the public, especially if they notice their neighbors’ tendencies. Please have them reported to the police immediately,” Purisima said.

Purisima said there are police stations in the community that could immediately respond to any incident. He assured the public that the police would keep their identities confidential.

“Please get their contact numbers in the police stations. If the local police will not act on your reports, you can report them to the national headquarters, by texting 0917-8475757,” he said.

Purisima said reporting incidents of indiscriminate firing and stray bullet victims is a means of preventing the occurrence of illegal discharge of firearms.

National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Carmelo Valmoria had ordered an intensified campaign against indiscriminate firing on New Year’s Eve.

Valmoria expressed confidence that there would be no repeat of the case of Stephanie Nicole Ella.

“I always give emphasis to the case of Ella each time the security of Metro Manila is discussed during our command conferences. We should prevent indiscriminate firing of guns during the New Year revelry at all cost,” he said.

A stray bullet fatally hit Ella during the New Year revelry in Caloocan City. The gunman was never identified and her case remains unsolved.

Valmoria said the full deployment of policemen in every nook and corner of Metro Manila since Dec. 23 would attain their goal of preventing another stray bullet incident like in the case of Ella.

Valmoria ordered the five police district directors in Metro Manila to deploy foot and mobile patrols in their areas of jurisdiction to prevent and discourage indiscriminate firing during the New Year.

Valmoria also ordered the arrest of anybody caught indiscriminately firing their guns.

“Nobody should be above the law. Violators should be arrested and charged in court so others would not follow their bad example,” Valmoria said.

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