■ Jane B. Cadalig
For the law enforcers, Mountain Province has done a good job of maintaining the communities safe from the hazards of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices.
The province has achieved zero firecracker and fireworks-related injuries during the Yuletide celebrations, as shown by the report of the Department of Health-Cordillera.
Police Regional Office-Cordillera Regional Operations Division Chief, Col. Jeremias Oyawon, said Mountain Province has demonstrated a whole-of-society approach in the government’s desire to achieve zero firework-related injuries.
He said local government units in Mountain Province imposed a ban on firecrackers and other sectors were involved in ensuring the constituents adhered to the policy.
All 10 municipalities of the province have crafted their respective ordinances banning firecrackers in the localities.
Oyawon said the barangays and even the church helped ensure that the people were aware of the ban on firecrackers through reminders during community assemblies and church services.
“Other local government units can look at the best practices adopted by Mountain Province and replicate these,” Oyawon said.
The DOH has recorded 41 fireworks-related injuries, including the case of a priest who was hit by a stray bullet, since the agency started its monitoring on Dec. 21, 2023 until Jan. 6.
PRO-Cor, which started monitoring firecracker-related incidents on Dec. 16, 2023 as part of its “Ligtas Paskuhan” program, confiscated 14,609 illegal firecrackers worth P226,724.50.
The number of firecracker-related injuries recorded during the Dec. 21, 2023 to Jan. 6 reckoning period is almost half the 23 cases reported from Dec. 21, 2022 to Jan. 6, 2023.
Among other factors, authorities attribute the increase in the number of firewocracker-related incidents to the lifting of the Covid-19 restrictions and the sale of firecrackers online.
Oyawon said despite the existence of ordinances banning the sale of firecrackers in the localities, people were still able to access these items because they were sold online and were delivered right to the doorsteps of the buyers.
No data yet on how many of those injured acquired the firecrackers from online sellers.
The DOH reported that most of the fireworks-related injuries involved victims 16 years old and below who were active users or were the ones who lit the firecrackers.
Most also happened at home and 31 of the victims were intoxicated at the time of their injury.
The priest who was hit by a stray bullet was watching a community fireworks display, according to PRO-Cor.