The Department of Health – Center for Health Development (DOH-CHD) has urged the provinces covered by the Mimaropa region to pass ordinances that would regulate and control the use of firecrackers for safe New Year celebrations.
Dr. Ma. Vilma Diez, assistant director of the DOH-CHD 4-B (Mimaropa), during the “Oplan Iwas Paputok” media conference here Thursday night, said this is aimed at ensuring zero fireworks-related injury (FWRI) every year.
Mimaropa consists of the provinces of Occidental and Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan.
Diez said barangay leaders, municipal and provincial legislative members, and other local government officials in these provinces can help curb the “behavioral culture” that favors firecrackers in welcoming the New Year.
“Inaasahan po natin na mawala na ang kultura nang pag-ingay sa pamamagitan ng paputok. We hope magkaroon na ng change in attitude on this. If hindi magawa ‘yung mga batas on a national level, sana sa local level magawa natin (We expect an end to the culture of making noise using firecrackers. We also hope for a change in attitude on this to happen soon. If laws cannot be passed at the national level, we will seek the help of the local level),” she said.
Instead of using firecrackers in their homes, Diez suggested that families can opt to watch community fireworks displays, organize street dancing parties, beat pots that are no longer being used, blow plastic hornpipes (torotot), and use other safe noisemakers and methods.
“Walang dapat masaktan sa panahon ng kasiyahan (Nobody should be hurt during happy celebrations),” she said.
Diez said Mimaropa had 21 cases of FWRI from Dec. 21, 2017 to Jan. 5, 2018. She said the figure is lower by 17 incidents compared to 2016’s 38 cases recorded from Dec. 21 to January 5.
Some 33 percent of the FWRI cases, she said, were caused by kwitis or sparklers; 29 percent by the powder-filled cylindrical stick called Piccolo, and 14 percent by Whistle Bombs.
In Palawan, Diez said no FWRI case was recorded in 2017.
What was recorded at the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP) was the case of a patient, whose throat was impaled by a plastic hornpipe when he accidentally stumbled.
“Bagama’t bumaba na po kaso sa buong Mimaropa, hindi tayo dapat titigil sa kampanya. Gusto natin zero-injury sa pagsapit ngayon ng Bagong Taon (Athough the number of cases in Mimaropa decreased, we should not stop campaigning. What we want is zero injury in the coming New Year),” Diez said.
With the theme “Oplan: Iwas Paputok, Fireworks Display ang Patok! Makiisa sa Inyong Lugar”, she said another goal of their campaign is ensuring the readiness of public and private hospitals to respond to FWRI cases during the season.
Diez said she was glad to have seen during her earlier hospital visits that the ONP, the Medical Mission Group and Health Services Cooperative-Puerto Princesa City, and the Palawan Adventist Hospital are prepared to receive fireworks-related injuries.
“Sa Palawan, natutuwa kami dahil isa ito sa mga probinsya na mahigpit na binabantayan at talagang walang insidente ng FWRI. Nagsadya kami sa mga ospital at ipinakita nila sa amin ang kanilang kahandaan sa mga gamit na meron sila para sa mga kaso ng FWRI (We are happy to note that Palawan has no FWRI because ordinances are strictly enforced here. We went around hospitals and they showed us their readiness through tools and devices needed to respond to FWRI),” she added.
Meanwhile, Palawan Provincial Health Office (PHO) chief Dr. Mary Ann Navarro said the municipal hospitals in the province are ready in case of FWRIs during the New Year celebration.
She said emergency rooms, wound-cleaning agents, amputation tools, oral and injectable medicines, vaccines, surgeons, and ambulances have been prepared earlier.
“Yes, our hospitals are prepared. In the southern and northern Palawan provincial hospitals, they have surgeons who can perform surgical procedures and have blood stations for transfusion. So, we are ready,” she said.
Senior Police Officer 1 Rey Albert Goh, assistant team leader of the city police’s Explosive Ordnance Division, said they are strictly implementing Executive Order No. 28 signed in 2017 by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The EO provides for the regulation and control of the use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices.
“Since the EO was issued by President Duterte, we have been steadfast in its implementation by always reminding barangay leaders of their responsibilities against the use of firecrackers, especially the very dangerous ones,” Goh said.
The EO, he said, is pursuant to Republic Act No. 7183, which regulates the use, sale, manufacture, and distribution of firecrackers and other pyrotechnics.
He said the prohibited firecrackers are Super Lolo, Whistlebomb, Goodbye Earth or Philippines, Atomic Big Triangulo, Piccolo, Judas’ Belt and other powerful fireworks imported from other countries.
Fire Officer 1 Barrister Carl L. Conde of the Puerto Princesa City Fire Protection – Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), said they are ready to respond to any fire incident during the New Year. However, they hope that no such incident would happen just because people are celebrating the New Year.
“Nakahanda rin po tayo sa BFP para sa ano mang insidente ng sunog. Pero syempre inaasahan natin na walang mangyayaring ganito. Umiwas tayo sa mga bagay na maaaring mag-cause ng sunog (The BFP is also prepared for any untoward incident. But of course, we don’t want this. Let us avoid things that can cause fire),” Conde said.
The DOH-CHD also brought the Iwas Paputok campaign to the Palawan National School, where it disseminated information regarding the use of firecrackers to 15-year old students.
Diez said this is because records show that most FWRIs involved teens in that age range. (Celeste Anna Formoso/PNA)