February 26, 2024

■  Jane B. Cadalig 

WELCOMING 2024 WITH A BANG — Baguio residents welcomed the year 2024 with a community fireworks  display, as they wish for a better and prosperous new year following a challenging 2023 brought about by global crisis and conflicts. — Harley Palangchao

A 60-year-old priest in Baguio City is one of the 39 individuals reported to have been injured during Christmas and New Year revelries in the Cordillera.

The Baguio City Police Office reported the victim, who was not named, was hit by a stray bullet during the New Year’s celebration.

The BCPO is conducting an investigation to identify the suspect responsible for the firing of a 9-millimeter caliber handgun leading to a stray bullet that hit the victim. The priest is  in stable condition.

BCPO Director, Col. Francisco Bulwayan, Jr., has asked the suspect to surrender and face the consequences of their actions, saying the police can trace the responsible individual through the use of technology.

The victim is one of the 12 individuals injured in Baguio, the second to have recorded the highest number of fireworks-related injuries since the Department of Health-Cordillera starting monitoring cases on Dec. 21, 2023.

Kalinga has recorded 13 injured individuals while Abra recorded seven. Apayao had four fireworks-related injuries and Benguet recorded three.

Mountain Province has not reported any firework-related injury as of the reckoning period.

Based on the DOH report, majority of the cases recorded until 6 a.m. of Jan. 5 is caused by legal fireworks.

Data also showed 61 percent of the injuries were sustained by active users or they are the ones who lit the fireworks or firecrackers. Also, majority or 58 percent of the cases occurred in the homes.

The youngest victim is five years old while the oldest is 62 years old.

No deaths and amputation were reported.

Last year, the DOH-Cordillera recorded 22 fireworks-related injuries, which were reported from Dec. 21, 2022 to Jan. 6, 2023. Two cases of stray bullet injuries were recorded in the region during that reckoning period.

In the Dec. 21, 2021 to Jan. 6, 2022 reckoning period, the Cordillera recorded nine cases of fireworks-related injuries, which was five cases higher than the four cases recorded in the region from Dec. 21, 2020 to Jan. 5, 2021.

The DOH reminded the public to not pick unexploded fireworks or firecrackers. In cases when these items need to be discarded, the agency advised using tools, such as a broom and dustpan, to transfer the fireworks to a bucket of water.

Those injured were also advised to seek immediate medical attention to avoid infection.

At the national level, cases of fireworks-related injuries reached 585 as of Jan. 4.