TACLOBAN CITY – For the first time, Eastern Visayas has achieved zero firecracker-related injuries in welcoming the New Year, the Department of Health (DOH) announced on Wednesday.
DOH Eastern Visayas information officer Farida Mateo attributed the peaceful and safe holiday celebrations to the efficient implementation of the “Oplan Iwas Paputok” amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
The DOH starts its yearly surveillance for those injured every 21st of December until January 6 of the next year.
“Our intensified information dissemination made people aware of the harmful consequences of using firecrackers. The support of the different government agencies, local government units (LGU), and the media is a big factor for the success of our advocacy,” she said in a virtual press conference.
In 2020, during the yearly surveillance period, the region recorded a total of 15 firecracker-related injuries due to the use of boga, kwitis, five star, whistle bomb, recycled firecracker powder, binggala, and piccolo.
In June 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order 28 providing for the regulation and control of the use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices.
Based on the monitoring of the Philippine National Police (PNP), at least 86 out of 143 LGUs in the region have issued ordinances prohibiting the manufacture, distribution, sale, and use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices in their respective areas following the recommendation of the Regional Peace and Order Council.
In the region, the consistent reduction of firecracker-related injuries has been recorded since the implementation of EO 28 from 106 cases in 2017, 44 each in 2018 and 2019, 15 in 2020, to zero this year.
Marc Steven Capungcol, DOH regional epidemiology and surveillance unit head, said he is hoping that the region will achieve zero firecracker-related injuries in the next years by maintaining its best practices and initiatives.
“We will be having a program implementation review sooner to identify what are the best practices that contributed to this significant achievement. I also believe that fear of acquiring Covid-19 was also a factor why many people did not use firecrackers,” he added.
According to the Philippine National Police (PNP), 45 retailers and five dealers in the region have secured special permits to sell firecrackers during the holiday.
The number is lower compared with last year’s 56 retailers and six dealers due to the expected decrease in sales as movement and quarantine restrictions remain in place to contain the spread of Covid-19, the PNP said.
Meanwhile, the police reported two indiscriminate firing cases involving a village official and a civilian in Maydolong, Eastern Samar, and Calbayog City in Samar, respectively.
No one was injured during the incidents that happened on Dec. 21 and 23, respectively, the PNP said.
Last year, the police arrested four civilians for illegal discharge of firearms. (PNA)