Wednesday, January 6, 2016

DOH-Bicol winds up anti-firecracker campaign

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 5 (PNA) -- The Department of Health (DOH) Bicol regional office ended its Kontra Paputok campaign Tuesday, recording 124 persons as victims of firecracker-related injuries.

The DOH Action Paputok Injury Reduction (APIR) Unit said the number of victims recorded this year was 180 percent higher than last year’s figure of 69 cases.

Doctor Evi Sarmiento, DOH APIR program coordinator, said in an interview that majority, or 58 percent of the victims were minors, with ages ranging from 6-12.

“Piccolo” stood as the leading injury-causing firecracker.

Sarmiento said Albay remained at the top, with 65 cases; followed by Camarines Sur, with 32; Masbate, 11; Camarines Norte,10; Sorsogon, 4; and Catanduanes, 2.

She said DOH sentinels across the region reported that there were high numbers of reported firecracker victims on Dec. 26, Dec. 31 and New Year’s Day.

The DOH final report said 95 of the victims were directly involved in using firecrackers while 29 were considered as passive victims.

In Albay, Provincial Board Member Herbert Borja said he would pass an ordinance totally banning the entry, sale and use of Piccolo firecrackers in the province.

Borja also said a separate ordinance would also be filed banning firecrackers and pyrotechnics that contain explosive substance that exceeded the authorized standard content and such piece of legislation will regulate the distribution, sale and use of other firecrackers in the market.

In a phone interview on Tuesday, the local legislator said he was fine-tuning the pertinent provisions that would totally ban Piccolo firecrackers as minors often fell victims of this particular firecracker.

Borja, Sangguniang Panlalawigan committee on health chair, said he would call for a meeting with representatives of the Provincial Health Office; the Departments of Health, Interior and Local Government and Environment; the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and local government units (LGUs) to discuss his proposed ordinance.

Under his proposed ordinance, law enforcement agencies like the PNP, BFP and LGUs will strictly enforce the total ban on Piccolo and other products that exceeds the required product standards in their locality.

The ordinance will prohibit the sale and use of firecrackers and pyrotechnic products to minors.

Asked why it took several years for that proposed ordinance to be submitted for enactment, he said he was already pushing for the ordinance during the previous SP sessions but “tradition” prevented him to submit the proposal.

Aside from Piccolo, other products to be banned are firecrackers with large amount of explosive powder contents like the Goodbye Philippines, Bin Laden, Atomic Triangulo, Super Bawang, Super Lolo and Baby Dynamite, among others.

Earlier, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda passed an executive order enjoining all provincial, city and municipal employees in the province, including their immediate families, not to use any type of firecrackers during the holiday season in support of the national Kontra Putok campaign.

“I don’t want to break the tradition where use of firecrackers is part of the practice in celebrating Christmas and New Year,” Borja stressed.

He, however, said his conscience dictated on him to push for the total ban and regulation of other firecracker products following DOH reports that Albay province has been consistently on top of the list in number of firecracker victims among other Bicol provinces for the past five years.

Borja said his proposed ordinance will in a way update some provisions in what he branded as the “outmoded” National Illegal Firecrackers Act or RA 7183.

He also welcomed the DOH proposal for a common pyrotechnics display area in every town and city where people would converge and watch the fireworks exhibits during Christmas and New Year.

Doctor Nathaniel Rempillo, Albay provincial health officer, said he will insist for the total banning of all types of firecrackers and for the LGUs to initiate for a fireworks display area.

Rempillo said that with a common fireworks display area, this would keep the public and their respective homes out of danger from injuries and fire due to firecrackers. (PNA) RMA/FGS/MSA/CBD /EDS