MANILA, Philippines — Another 365 days have passed, and we are already 2 days into 2012. People from across the country welcomed the New Year in their own special way, whether via feast, singing, dancing, and the occasional countdown to 12 AM.
But for some 400+ Filipinos who decided to celebrate the New Year with firecrackers, counting down to 10 with their fingers for the year 2013 would prove to be difficult.
Department of Health Secretary Enrique Ona said that 454 firecracker injuries were reported as well as 18 victims of stray bullets. Of the 454 victims, majority lost a minimum of one finger per victim, due to carelessness handling said firecrackers.
Despite warnings, scare tactics and the mandatory campaign against firecrackers by the government, there would always be the few who fail to heed the warning.
Victims could be heard crying “hindi na ako magpapaputok! (I won’t use firecrackers anymore!)” across various hospitals around the country instead of enjoying the moment at home with their family.
The government, for it’s part would be taking a radical approach in next year’s firecracker campaign that would ensure the number of victims will drop. Secretary Ona explained that if people still uses fireworks despite the warnings, they would instead persuade people to use them in celebrating 2013.
When asked to elaborate on the radical approach, he said that “with the government’s persuasion, we expect the number of victims to double if not triple. We will be doing it every year until all the stubborn headed people have lost one or all of their fingers.” He added, “I admit that this could not be done overnight. But with proper persuasion a patience, I believe that we could reach our goal.”
The government plans to offer discounts as well as hire Chinese experts to discuss the importance of firecrackers during the New Year. Malacañang for it’s part, would issue an executive order, making it mandatory for Barangays to promote the use of firecrackers even on other holidays like Bonifacio Day or even Labor Day.
Asked to specify what the end goal is, Ona said “our goal is for every Filipino to shout hindi na ako magpapaputok! (I won’t use firecrackers anymore!) happily and merrily and not in hospitals crying.
[UPDATE] DOH is reporting the number of victims of firecracker related injuries during the New Year has risen to 739, and may go higher as the department receives and gathers more data during it’s surveillance period from December 21 to January 5.