by Jane B. Cadalig
WITH A BANG -- Baguio residents welcome the New Year with a bang courtesy of the spectacular fireworks display on most parts of the city on Jan. 1. Filipinos are hopeful that the change the administration wants to achieve will bring peace, prosperity, and stability in the country.
-- Harley Palangchao
Cases of firecracker-related injuries have decreased during the Christmas and New Year celebrations in the Cordillera, but incidents of indiscriminate firing remained.
Department of Health Regional Director Lakshmi Legaspi said the region recorded 22 cases of fireworks and firecracker-related injuries from Dec. 21, 2016 to Jan. 5, a decrease of 67 percent from the 63 cases reported from Dec. 21, 2015 to Jan. 5, 2016.
Abra had the most number of firecracker-related injuries, which is six, but the figure is 92 percent lower than that of last year’s 25 cases.
Baguio City had five cases, Ifugao and Kalinga had three cases each, followed by Apayao and Benguet with two cases each, and Mountain Province had one reported case.
The youngest victim is three years old while the oldest is 53 years old.
Dr. Jennifer Joyce Pira, medical office III of the DOH-Health Emergency Management, said of the 22 cases, one victim swallowed luces and another victim was injured in the eye.
She said of those injured, 18 were active users or they were the ones directly involved in igniting the firecrackers. It was not immediately known if the latest victim in Baguio City was actively or passively involved in firecracker use.
Pira added three of the male victims were under the influence of liquor when they ignited firecrackers.
Nurse Clark Dizon of the DOH said there were no deaths recorded due to firecracker use.
“We hope our goal for a zero casualty due to firecrackers will soon be attained,” he said.
The DOH’s report of the decrease in firecracker-related injuries, however, was challenged by the incidents of indiscriminate firing and the presence of a victim of stray bullet.
Police Regional Office-Cordillera Information Officer Marcelo Polig said one victim was hit by a stray bullet in Tabuk City, Kalinga from the firearm discharged by a member of the Philippine Army. The report on stray bullet that hit a house in Barangay Kias, Baguio City is being investigated.
PRO-Cor also recorded a case of indiscriminate firing in Rizal, Kalinga on Dec. 24, 2016 and in Atok, Benguet on Dec. 30, 2016.
Polig said the suspects who discharged their arms indiscriminately were all arrested.
The regional office of the Bureau of Fire Protection also recorded no fire occurrences related to firecracker use.
While concerned agencies were elated over the decline in firecracker-related injuries, they moved for a ban on its sale and use.
Legaspi said no local government unit in the region has banned firecracker sale and use in their areas of jurisdiction.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan said it’s about time the Baguio City Council passes an ordinance that will specify when and where firecracker use should be allowed in the city.
“We should only use firecrackers and fireworks on particular occasions and in an identified area for a specified time,” Domogan said.