By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan, Liza Agoot and Ma. Teresa Montemayor
MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) reported 212 new fireworks-related injuries (FWRIs) during the New Year’s Eve revelry, bringing the overall tally to 443 on Tuesday.
In its latest case report, the DOH said the additional FWRIs include the first case of death related to fireworks and the first injury due stray bullet.
One hundred and twenty-two cases with eye injuries were also recorded, leading to one confirmed blindness case.
One more case of hearing loss was logged, bringing the total tally to two.
The first death is a 38-year-old male from Ilocos Region who lit a cigarette while drinking with his companions near a firecracker storage.
The case of a stray bullet injury is a 23-year-old male from the Davao Region who had a gunshot wound in his left upper back.
With ages ranging from 1 to 71 years old, almost half or 102 of these new cases were due to illegal firecrackers.
Less than half or 94 cases had active involvement or lit the firecrackers themselves.
There are six new amputation cases, bringing its total to 17.
There have been no additional reports of ingestion of firecrackers (Watusi) thus far.
The DOH started its surveillance on Dec. 21 and the current tally is 232 cases more compared to 211 FWRIs recorded during the same period last year.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said it would file charges against the drinking buddies of a man who was earlier reported as a stray bullet victim in Mariveles, Bataan on New Year’s Eve.
PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo, in a presser in Camp Crame, said police investigators became doubtful as the drinking buddies of the victim gave conflicting accounts of the incident.
“Nung kinonduct nila yung trajectory examination ay it appears na it would be improbable na tama yun ng stray bullet, same thing, ang gagawin natin dito sa mga ibang insidente, tinitingnan yung kung saan ang kinatatayuan ng mga biktima natin whether nasa loob ng bahay nila or nasa labas (When they conducted the trajectory examination, it appears that it would be improbable for this to become a stray bullet incident, same thing, what we will do here, just like in other incidents, we are looking at where our victims are standing, whether inside their house or outside),” Fajardo told reporters.
Fajardo said one of the victim’s friends admitted to accidentally shooting the victim, with the bullet hitting the side part of his body.
She added that the suspect has underwent inquest proceedings while the three others would be charged for attempting to conceal the incident.
Meanwhile, a security guard in Quezon City was nabbed for indiscriminate firing during the New Year revelry.
Quezon City Police District chief Brig. Gen. Redrico Maranan identified the suspect as 44-year-old Boy Bagua, a resident of Barangay Baesa.
Bagua was arrested by Police Station (PS) 3 cops after a concerned citizen reported that he repeatedly fired his gun at No. 11-8 Baesa Road, Barangay Baesa in the early hours of New Year’s Day.
The suspect was drunk when he was apprehended and a handgun was visibly tucked into his waist, Maranan added.
Recovered from his possession were one cal. 38 revolver, a fired cartridge case and four live rounds of ammunition.
Maranan said the suspect will be charged with violation of Republic Act (RA) 11926 or the Indiscriminate Discharge of Firearms Act and RA 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.
Stop using firecrackers
Moreover, the Police Regional Office-Cordillera (PROCor) and the Department of Health in the Cordillera Administrative Region (DOH-CAR) on Tuesday reiterated their appeal to the public to stop using firecrackers to avoid more injuries, even deaths.
“Better be safe than sorry,” Brig. Gen. David Peredo, PROCor director, said in a statement on Tuesday.
Peredo also urged those who are still in possession of firecrackers and pyrotechnics, especially those classified as illegal, to turn over the items to the authorities for proper disposal.
Data provided by the PROCor showed 21 firecracker-related injuries recorded and one injury resulting from a stray bullet during the New Year celebration.
The firecracker-related injuries were recorded in Kalinga with nine; Baguio City, five; Abra, three; Apayao and Benguet with two each; and Ifugao and Mountain Province with zero victims. (PNA)