The Department of Health (DOH) is still pushing for a total ban on firecrackers and fireworks despite the huge 35-percent drop in the number of related injuries during the 2019 holiday season revelries.
This was seconded by environmental advocate EcoWaste Coalition, which insisted that the only way to prevent injuries is to totally ban the traditional use of fireworks in greeting the start of a new year.
Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo, in an interview with GMA News on Thursday (January 2), said the problem with a selective or partial ban is people are still getting hurt by legal types of firecrackers.
This was evident in the last revelries, where the majority of injuries were due to the use of legal fireworks, like those commonly called by Filipinos as kwitis, luces and fountain.
“Ang stand po ng Department of Health sana magkaroon natayo ng batas na talagang maging illegal na lang lahat ng fireworks, lalong-lalo na po kung gagamitin sa bahay or for personal use,” Domingo said in the interview.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III reported on Wednesday that only 164 firecracker-related injuries were recorded by the DOH from December 1 to January 1, 35 percent lower than the 251 cases in the previous same period.
The DOH chief attributed the considerable drop in injuries to the implementation of Executive Order 28, which limits the use of firecrackers in the country, as well as the department’s information campaign “IwasPaputok”.
Still, EcoWaste said in a statement that to achieve zero injury and zero pollution during the New Year revelry, “we need to seriously look at banning firecrackers and fireworks altogether.”
“We are saddened and dismayed by the bodily injuries inflicted by firecrackers and fireworks, especially on young victims. One injury is one too many and our society has to do more to discontinue the bloody and polluting tradition of ringing in the New Year with firecrackers and fireworks, legal or not,” said Thony Dizon, chemical safety campaigner at EcoWaste.
The government, the group added, should look for alternative livelihood for the sectors that will be affected by a total ban on fireworks.
Domingo said the use of fireworks should only be allowed during “well-controlled and organized” events.