FIRECRACKER USERS UP DESPITE PLEA BY AUTHORITIES

Despite the authorities’ appeal to the public to use alternative methods of noise-making for the holiday revelries, the number of firecracker users has increased this year, according to the Department of Health (DOH). Dr. Eric Tayag, assistant health secretary and National Epidemiology Center (NEC) director, said the number of firecracker users went up 8 percent this year from 2012. A total of 115 or 70 percent of the reported fireworks-related injuries were sustained by active users of firecrackers, according to the “Aksyon: Paputok Injury Reduction 2013” report of the DOH-NEC, which started recording cases on Dec. 21. Mostly caused by piccolo. The DOH noted that fireworks-related injuries continued to increase in the days leading to the New Year as it recorded a total of 170 injuries as of 6 a.m., Saturday. Most of the injuries were caused by “piccolo,” a firecracker.

ALSO: Firecracker sales booming DOH raises alarm as blast injuries rise

The sale of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic products in Bocaue, Bulacan, the country’s fireworks capital, has picked up a few days before the New Year, pushing prices up by 40 to 60 percent. The booming business coincided with more Filipinos using firecrackers and the rising number of fireworks-related injuries nationwide, mostly from “piccolo,” an illegal firecracker. Assistant Health Secretary Eric Tayag has noted that firecracker use among Filipinos this year is up from 2012. The injuries were not only from firecrackers but also from stray bullets. In Nueva Ecija, Alieya Sto. Domingo, 6, survived after a .45-cal. bullet hit her in the head as she sat on a bench in Barangay (village) Bertese in Quezon town at 11 a.m. on Dec. 27.

ALSO: Police step up security ahead of New Year revelry

Police tightened security measures and increased police presence in bus terminals, sea and air ports as the New Year’s Day celebration draws closer. Senior Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, Philippine National Police spokesperson, said Sunday in a radio interview, that the PNP is on heightened alert and police marshalls are deployed in Metro Manila. “The PNP continues to intensify its security operations as well as the Police Integrated Patrol System for this coming New Year celebration,” he said.

ALSO: 3-day break not enough for Aquino, says health chief

A three-day break from his workload is not enough for President Benigno Aquino III to fully rest, according to Health Secretary Enrique Ona. “Three days are not enough, it should be at least one week,” Ona said in an interview. On Ona’s recommendation, the President will not be working for the rest of the holidays starting Friday. He will interrupt his break on Dec. 30 to pay tribute to Jose Rizal on his death anniversary. Ona, a doctor by profession, said he advised Mr. Aquino to take a week of rest, preferably on a quarterly basis, for him to be always healthy. But Mr. Aquino apparently found Ona’s suggestion quite difficult to adhere to. “He said it’s hard to do. You know our President, he’s workaholic,” Ona said....MORE AT PNoy's page...


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Firecracker users up despite plea by authorities


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AP FILE PHOTO/Aaron Favila

MANILA, DECEMBER 30, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Tina G. Santos - Despite the authorities’ appeal to the public to use alternative methods of noise-making for the holiday revelries, the number of firecracker users has increased this year, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

Dr. Eric Tayag, assistant health secretary and National Epidemiology Center (NEC) director, said the number of firecracker users went up 8 percent this year from 2012.

A total of 115 or 70 percent of the reported fireworks-related injuries were sustained by active users of firecrackers, according to the “Aksyon: Paputok Injury Reduction 2013” report of the DOH-NEC, which started recording cases on Dec. 21.

Mostly caused by piccolo

The DOH noted that fireworks-related injuries continued to increase in the days leading to the New Year as it recorded a total of 170 injuries as of 6 a.m., Saturday. Most of the injuries were caused by “piccolo,” a firecracker.

The number of recorded injuries was 167 in the same period last year.

Sixty-two percent or 101 cases of fireworks-related injuries were caused by piccolo, a banned firecracker.

Tayag urged the Philippine National Police to intensify its crackdown on piccolo and other illegal fireworks, saying the DOH received reports that the items were being sold openly near a police station in Pasay City.

Stray bullet

The DOH report also said that out of the 170 fireworks-related injuries, 78 cases or 46 percent occurred in Metro Manila, followed by 17 cases in Northern Mindanao.

There was one case of firecracker ingestion and five cases of stray bullet injury. No deaths were reported.

Most of the injured were males, 49 of whom were children under 10. Forty-nine were passive users or bystanders.

Boy’s right hand lost

One hundred forty-seven sustained blast injuries not requiring amputation and 16 suffered eye injuries. Two victims had blast injuries that needed amputation, the DOH said.

A 14-year-old boy who lost his right hand and an elderly man with a ruptured eyeball were among the worst injured so far,Tayag said.

He tweeted that a five-year-old had also lost his right index finger from using fireworks.

Driving away bad spirits

Celebratory gunfire killed a four-year-old boy and more than 400 others were injured by powerful fireworks in the runup to 2013, according to police and health department tallies.

The Philippines, a country of 100 million people, traditionally greets the New Year by making noise in the belief it will drive bad spirits away.

Households start stockpiling fireworks around Christmas and start using them days before New Year’s Eve.
Dangerous places in Metro

Apart from fireworks, gun owners are another seasonal hazard as they fire their weapons in the air to celebrate Christmas and New Year.

The DOH released yesterday a list of the most dangerous barangays in terms of firework-related injuries based on 2010-2012 reports.

Quezon City – Batasan Hills, Commonwealth, Holy Spirit, Payatas, Sto. Domingo and Krus na Ligas.

Manila – District 2, particularly Barangay 147-267 East Tondo; District 1 Barangay 1-146 West Tondo; District 3 Barangay 268-394; Binondo, Quiapo, San Nicolas and Sta. Cruz.

Mandaluyong – Addition Hills, Hulo, Barangka Drive, Poblacion, San Jose and Plainview.

Valenzuela – Hen. T. de Leon, Marulas, Karuhatan, Canumay, Malinta and Parada.

Las Piñas – Pulang Lupa Uno, BF International Village, Talon Dos, Pulang Lupa Dos and Fajardo.

Pasig – Pinagbuhatan, Bagong Ilog, Pineda, Bambang, San Miguel, Kapasigan, San Joaquin and Kalawaan.

Marikina – Malanday, Concepcion Uno, Parang and Sto. Niño.

Firecracker sales booming DOH raises alarm as blast injuries rise By Niña P. Calleja Inquirer Central Luzon, Inquirer Northern Luzon, Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:11 am | Monday, December 30th, 2013


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BLASTS BAD FOR PETS. Pet owners and environmentalists take part in a campaign by EcoWaste Coalition and animal welfare groups to remind the public that loud explosions during New Year revelries are harmful to animals like dogs, which have an acute sense of hearing. ALEXIS CORPUZ

The sale of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic products in Bocaue, Bulacan, the country’s fireworks capital, has picked up a few days before the New Year, pushing prices up by 40 to 60 percent.

The booming business coincided with more Filipinos using firecrackers and the rising number of fireworks-related injuries nationwide, mostly from “piccolo,” an illegal firecracker.

Assistant Health Secretary Eric Tayag has noted that firecracker use among Filipinos this year is up from 2012.
The injuries were not only from firecrackers but also from stray bullets.

In Nueva Ecija, Alieya Sto. Domingo, 6, survived after a .45-cal. bullet hit her in the head as she sat on a bench in Barangay (village) Bertese in Quezon town at 11 a.m. on Dec. 27.

Sto. Domingo was taken to a hospital in Cabanatuan City where she was declared out of danger.

Amid the rising cases of injuries, Malacañang on Sunday asked the public to heed the Department of Health’s warning to stay away from firecrackers in welcoming the new year.

“The government again appeals to all our people to follow the Department of Health’s reminder against the use of harmful firecrackers to ensure a safe and peaceful welcome to the new year 2014,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said in Filipino in his weekly media briefing aired over Radyo ng Bayan.

Alternative noisemakers

The Palace earlier urged parents and guardians to promote the use of alternative noisemakers, such as toy trumpets and sound systems.

“Children should not be allowed to handle [firecrackers]. We can prevent injuries,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte earlier quoted Health Secretary Enrique Ona as saying.

The Department of Health (DOH) warning may have fallen on deaf ears.

Heavy traffic has beset Bocaue’s “pyro zone,” the designated area for firecracker stalls in Barangay Turo, as motorists drive in from MacArthur Highway to buy firework products.

Brisk sales

Sales have been brisk since Friday, said Linda de Guzman, an employee of Jay-R Fireworks Store, which opened a stall in the country’s fireworks capital.

“Sales pick up right after Christmas, which has been the trend year after year,” De Guzman said.

The increased demand this holiday season prompted traders to raise prices.

Skyrockets, or “kwitis,” sell for as high as P350, up 40 percent from P250, for a bundle of 100 pieces.

People buy 1,000 pieces of firecrackers (called “sawa,” or snake) for P350 to P400, up 40 to 60 percent from the usual P250.

Dancing dragon, which traders described as child-friendly, sells for P25 each.

‘Different high’

Francisco Castillo of Pangasinan province drove to the pyro zone at 3 a.m. on Saturday. Castillo said he spent as much as P20,000 on firecrackers and pyrotechnic products.

“The family contributes to buy our supply. My children already work and it’s a different high when we celebrate the New Year with fireworks,” he said.

Even before New Year’s Eve, people have been playing with firecrackers, resulting in injuries.

Tayag, head of the National Epidemiology Center, said the number of people injured because of firecrackers had shot up to 198 as of Sunday 6 a.m. from the 179 recorded in the same period last year.

Of the total number of injuries, 62 percent was caused by “piccolo,” an illegal firecracker.

Stray bullets

Five were injured by stray bullets and one was hospitalized after ingesting a firecracker, Tayag said in his twitter account @erictayagSays.

In Metro Manila, among the top three cities that have the biggest number of injuries caused by piccolo are Manila, Quezon City and Mandaluyong, according to Tayag.

The DOH said 88 percent of those injured were males while 32 percent were children below 10 years old.

In Central Luzon, at least 65 people have been injured by firecracker blasts as of Dec. 28, according to the DOH.

A 44-year-old woman from Tarlac province and a six-year-old girl from Nueva Ecija were wounded when they were hit by stray bullets.

DOH Central Luzon data showed that Bataan recorded the highest number of blast victims at 19, followed by Bulacan (13); Pampanga (14); Tarlac (11); Nueva Ecija (4); Aurora (3); and Zambales (1).

In the Cordillera region, government doctors recorded 10 cases of injuries attributed to firecracker blasts as of Dec. 28. One victim was a two-year-old.

Hospitals all set

Coloma said around 1,800 hospitals nationwide, including 721 facilities under the DOH, were all set to deal with the expected injuries from New Year’s Eve revelries.

The Philippine National Police has been placed on heightened alert “to intensify patrol in populated areas,” such as churches, transport terminals and shopping malls.

As part of safety measures against indiscriminate firing, Coloma said the PNP leadership had begun sealing the muzzles of service firearms issued to its 148,000-strong force.

“At the end of the [New Year’s] celebration, precinct chiefs will again inspect the firearms to see if anyone among their men violated the policy [against indiscriminate firing],” Coloma said.

Chief Supt. Isagani Nerez, Cordillera police director, did not require the police personnel to tape the muzzle of their guns with tape, which he described as an impractical and ceremonial gesture when he spoke to city police officials on Dec. 23.

Instead, Nerez asked the police to conduct an inventory of PNP-issued firearms and ammunition, and to monitor their use throughout the holidays.

Nerez, however, directed the Baguio police to enforce Mayor Mauricio Domogan’s ban on firework sales.

Director General Alan Purisima, the PNP chief, directed lawmen to be vigilant against illegal firecrackers.

Purisima on Saturday inspected two major trading areas for firecrackers and pyrotechnic products in Bocaue.

Raids

The Bulacan police said officials had made certain that no illicit products would get out of the province’s firework manufacturing centers.

Senior Supt. Joel Orduna, Bulacan police director, said the police had undertaken several raids on illegal pyrotechnic manufacturers in Bocaue, Sta. Maria, San Miguel and Baliwag towns, and arrested 11 suspects.

Seized in a recent police operation in Sitio (settlement) Daang Riles in Barangay Bundukan, Bocaue, were large quantities of chemicals and unlicensed firecrackers and pyrotechnic products, he said.—With reports from Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Armand Galang and Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon; Vincent Cabreza and Desiree Caluza, Inquirer Northern Luzon; and Christian V. Esguerra

Police step up security ahead of New Year revelry By Julliane Love De Jesus INQUIRER.net 1:33 pm | Sunday, December 29th, 2013


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MANILA, Philippines—Police tightened security measures and increased police presence in bus terminals, sea and air ports as the New Year’s Day celebration draws closer.

Senior Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, Philippine National Police spokesperson, said Sunday in a radio interview, that the PNP is on heightened alert and police marshalls are deployed in Metro Manila.

“The PNP continues to intensify its security operations as well as the Police Integrated Patrol System for this coming New Year celebration,” he said.

The PIPS, according to the PNP, enhances crime prevention and solution through the implementation of high police presence, anti-criminality and police security operations, campaign against motorcycle-riding criminals, and other police interventions.

At port terminals, the PNP Maritime Group inspects bags and luggages for banned firecrackers, pyrotechnic devices, and illegal firearms.

Last December 4, PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima announced that policemen will not have their Christmas break unlike in the previous years.

Sindac said policemen in all areas will render duties “as if it is an ordinary working day of law enforcement” as part of PNP’s “Yuletide 2013” drive.

3-day break not enough for Aquino, says health chief By Tina G. Santos Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:55 am | Friday, December 27th, 2013


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MANILA, Philippines—A three-day break from his workload is not enough for President Benigno Aquino III to fully rest, according to Health Secretary Enrique Ona.

“Three days are not enough, it should be at least one week,” Ona said in an interview.

On Ona’s recommendation, the President will not be working for the rest of the holidays starting Friday. He will interrupt his break on Dec. 30 to pay tribute to Jose Rizal on his death anniversary.

Ona, a doctor by profession, said he advised Mr. Aquino to take a week of rest, preferably on a quarterly basis, for him to be always healthy.

But Mr. Aquino apparently found Ona’s suggestion quite difficult to adhere to.

“He said it’s hard to do. You know our President, he’s workaholic,” Ona said.

“I’m advising everybody, especially the President, to take a break every three to four months… I think he should do [take] that [vacation] more often. His health is the concern of the whole country,” he added.

But Ona was quick to add that his advice for Mr. Aquino to take a break was not due to any specific health concern.

“It’s always nice to have some break especially if, like the President, you’re faced with so much pressure, so many problems and so very difficult decisions. You need time to relax and reflect over things,” he said.

“He’s still a human being, he needs to have a break,” he said. “The last few months have been tough for him.

You’ve seen what he has been going through with all the problems that we have. He’s been going around the country, trying to solve all these.”

Public concern about Aquino’s true health condition spiked after his State of the Nation Address last July 22 was interrupted by incessant coughing.

Malacañang, however, has repeatedly assured the public that Aquino, despite his smoking habit, is in good health and that his coughing is not a sign of illness.

Aquino had also been previously been down with the flu, allergic rhinitis and a bum stomach.

LAST YEAR INQUIRER NEWS

Aquino dreams of vacation with good food and at least a book By TJ Burgonio Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:36 pm | Thursday, April 25th, 2013


Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, right, arrives with Philippines President Benigno Aquino III for the 9th summit meeting of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area or BIMP-EAGA, in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, Thursday, April 25, 2013. AP

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei—President Benigno Aquino III said here Wednesday night that he would like to bring his own cook during a three day vacation he’s been dreaming to have before his term ends in June 2016 even as he downplayed his “date’’ with actress Bianca Manalo.

The President said he did pine for a holiday following an overnight stay at a hotel by the beach in Mactan, Cebu, but this should be much sooner than June 30, 2016, his last day in office.

“I did fantasize once that after this campaign, the elections and the Sona (State of the Nation Address) has been prepared, maybe I could have some taste of tourism in the Philippines even for just three days,’’ he told reporters in a chat at the Philippine Embassy here late Wednesday night.

“Once there, I hope I would not be cornered by people with problems or proposals. So, whom will I bring with me? If I’m assured of my food, I’ll be OK. If there’s nobody to talk to for two days, I could bring a book. That should do it,’’ he added.

After aggressively making a pitch for tourism at the groundbreaking of new roads leading to destinations in the countryside, Aquino said that maybe it was about time he became a tourist himself.

“I’ve been making an aggressive pitch for tourism in the Philippines anywhere I go, but I noticed I’ve never been a tourist in the Philippines. That’s just my point,’’ he said of his speech in Toledo City last Friday in which he mentioned his longing for a holiday.

“Now if somebody tweeted that they too wanted to go to the beach, maybe I’m effective at inviting tourists,’’ he added, chuckling. “Now who I do want to bring with me? Honestly, my cook, so I would have food to eat.’’

While crisscrossing the countryside to ground-break “tourism roads’’ and barnstorm for his handpicked senatorial candidates, the 53-year-old bachelor President has at times expressed his desire to see the rest of the archipelago after his term ends.

Aquino confirmed meeting Manalo, a beauty queen turned actress, twice but noted that these happened months ago.

“I met her,’’ he said when asked if he was dating her. “I met her and we had a subsequent dinner with a lot of other people who were with us. I don’t know if you consider that a date. We were introduced and we had another dinner subsequently. That was several months ago.’’

While he has remained a bachelor up to now, Aquino has indicated openness to marriage. If he comes around to it, he said, he’d want five children. But then again, he said, this was a matter that should be discussed with the woman he would be marrying.

“There seems to be a balance with five. But five will be too much now for any woman that I’ll be courting at this point. So can I just answer that that number is negotiable, especially for the person who will be bearing the children,’’ he said.

The President’s love life has been a favorite topic in the media since he assumed office in June 2010.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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