Fewer ‘cracker victims

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE Philippine National Police noted a marked decline in the number of firecracker-related injuries in 2008.

Meanwhile, four persons died from December 16 up to New Year’s Eve, two from firecrackers, one a victim of indiscriminate shooting and another killed in a fire, according to PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Nicanor A. Bartolome.

During the same period last year, the PNP recorded two deaths due to firecracker explosions. Only one was reported killed by a stray bullet during the period Dec. 16, 2006 to Jan. 1, 2007.

The figures showed a significant decline in the number of fatalities from firecrackers and stray bullets during the New Year celebration. The biggest number of fatalities was recorded by the PNP from Dec. 16, 2005 to Jan. 1, 2006 with a total of 67 deaths: 36 caused by firecrackers and 31 due to stray bullets.

PNP chief Director General Jesus A. Verzosa attributed the noteworthy improvement to the vigilance of the police in enforcing prohibitions against illegal firecrackers and indiscriminate firing of guns, the heightened awareness of the public through government and non-governmental organization’s efforts, and the inter-agency coordination by health officials, local governments, and law enforcement.

”I must congratulate all police units for maintaining their vigilance throughout the holiday season. I would also like to thank the various government agencies as well as the public for their continuous support and cooperation,” the PNP chief added.

Verzosa and National Capital Region Police Office chief Director Leo-poldo N. Bataoil inspected different police stations and hospitals in Metro Manila after midnight yesterday to check on the measures being undertaken following the celebrations.

Over the 15-day period since Dec. 16, 2008, the PNP documented a 30.05 % decline in firecracker- related incidents or a total of 575 incidents compared to the reported 822 for the same period last 2007.

There has also been a significant decline in the number of injured persons due to firecracker- related incidents with a total of 532 persons compared to the 828 listed last year, he said.

This figure represents a 55.67-percent reduction in the number of incidents compared with the 1,297 incidents recorded in the 2006 celebrations, Bartolome explained.

”Overall, the celebration of Christmas and New Year all over the country was generally peaceful, with a marked improvement in the number of accidents,” Bartolome said.

He also announced that this year registered a total of 38 victims of stray bullets with NCRPO making the most number of apprehensions with nine arrests, Police Regional Office 12 and PRO 6 both recording six cases and PRO4-A in Calabarzon registering five arrests.

A total of eight cases of indiscriminate firing were also reported resulting in the arrest of four persons compared with two incidents last year and nine for 2006.

”Despite our continuous warnings and preventive patrol and police visibility operations, there are some firearms holders who did not heed our call and spoiled the festive mood of the occasion by firing their guns,” Bartolome explained.

Eight men were also arrested for selling gun replicas and 94 were apprehended for possession of illegally manufactured firecrackers. Leading in this list is PRO 11 with 48 apprehensions, PRO 3 with 18 and PRO 9 with eight arrests.

Ten fires were recorded during the season compared to the seven and 15 conflagrations during the Christmas and New Year season last 2007 and 2006, respectively.

A total of 131 firecracker-related injuries were reported in Manila during the New Year revelry, the Manila Police District announced yesterday.

But MPD director Chief Supt. Roberto Rosales said the number was “low” compared to the injuries last year and in previous years.

Out of the 131 incidents, 30 happened in nearby cities but they were treated in hospitals in Manila.

All of the injured underwent treatment at the Gat Andres Bonifacio Hospital, Ospital ng Maynila, Tondo General Hospital, Mary Johnston Hospital, Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center, Chinese General Hospital, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Metropolitan Hospital, University of Santo Tomas hospital, Philippine General Hospital, Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, De Ocampo Memorial Hospital, Hospital of the Infant Jesus, Medical Center Manila, Manila Doctors Hospital, Mary Chiles General Hospital, Perpetual Help Hospital, and San Lazaro Hospital.