Stray bullet kills girl; firecracker injuries rise to 110

Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - December 28, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – A nine-year-old girl was killed by a stray bullet even as the number of firecracker-related injuries exceeded a hundred in the run-up to New Year’s Eve, the Department of Health (DOH) said yesterday.

Health Secretary Janette Garin said the victim was playing in the neighborhood near the Ipo Dam in Bulacan when she was hit in the back by a stray bullet on Christmas Eve.

Garin said when the victim went home, her parents saw her bleeding. She was rushed to a hospital in Bulacan but was later transferred to East Avenue Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City. 

Garin said the girl underwent surgery but died on Christmas Day.

“We strongly condemn the loss of life of an innocent nine-year-old playing and hit by a stray bullet. We again appeal to gun owners to avoid indiscriminate firing,” she said.

The girl was the first fatality recorded this year in connection with indiscriminate firing.

“This should have not happened if only gun owners are responsible. There are many ways to celebrate the holiday and firing guns indiscriminately is definitely not one of them,” Garin said.

The DOH Epidemiology Bureau also reported another case of stray bullet injury involving a student from Manila who was rushed to the Ospital ng Maynila on Christmas Day.

Ronald Zablan Paguinto, 21, was hit on the shoulder by a stray bullet in Rizal Park.

The DOH added that as of 6 a.m. yesterday, a total 110 people were injured from firecracker blasts since Dec. 21.

This is 42 cases lower than the same period last year, officials said. 

Piccolo continues to account for the most number of firecracker-related injuries with 84 or 77 percent; unknown firecrackers and 5-star each caused five injuries; while kwitis, sparklers and others registered three each.

Most of the cases were hand injuries with 86 or 79 percent; followed by head injuries with 12 at 11 percent; and eye injuries with 11 at 10 percent.

The report showed that a majority of the revelry-related injuries were registered in Metro Manila with 47 at 42 percent; followed by Bicol with 23 (21 percent); and Davao with 14 (13 percent).

In Metro Manila, Manila had the highest number of injuries with 15; followed by Quezon City with 12; Mandaluyong City with seven; Parañaque City with three, and Las Piñas with three.  

Initial reports said Romeo Villanueva, 22, was hit on his left waist and left thigh by a stray bullet in Tondo, Manila yesterday.

Apart from the DOH, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is monitoring the increasing cases of stray bullet injuries.

Based on nationwide monitoring, five people were injured due to stray bullets, the youngest victim a three-year-old girl from Zamboanga del Norte.

Police also confiscated some P609,000 worth of illegal firecrackers across the country.

Police have arrested a rookie policeman and a local official for indiscriminate firing.

Arrested were Police Officer 1 Francis Flake, assigned at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig, and Erol Calivoso, president of the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.

PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor said authorities managed to identify and arrest the two suspects in separate incidents of illegal discharge of firearms after concerned citizens sought police assistance. – Cecille Suerte Felipe, Ghio Ong, Rey Galupo


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