With less than a week before a historic year comes to an end, environmental and health advocates from the government and the civil society on Thursday went out on the streets of Tondo, Manila calling on local communities to celebrate New Year in a safe way by avoiding toxic and dangerous firecrackers and fireworks.
The waste and pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coalition, in partnership with the Department of Health, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection and the Office of Manila 1st District Representative Benjamin “Atong” Asilo, organized a multi-stakeholder campaign entitled “Pamayanang Hindi Nagpapaputok: Buo, Busog at Malusog” a few days before revelers nationwide usher in the New Year with a bang.
From Plaza Hernandez in front of Sto. Niño de Tondo Parish, the group paraded through adjacent barangays, wielding oversized mock triangulos bearing a “skull and crossbones” poison sign marked with the word “Danger!” while blowing eco-friendly torotots and sounding emission-free, home-made noisemakers made from recycled materials amidst the cheering of passersby and community residents.
“Firecrackers are the last thing anyone needs to celebrate the season, especially since these have already been proven to be harmful to humans, animals and the environment,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.
Lucero explained that “the money saved by not blowing up firecrackers and fireworks can aid ongoing humanitarian efforts in places ravaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda.”
“By shunning firecrackers and pyrotechnics, our communities and families we’ll come out ‘buo’ (unscathed) from the New Year’s revelry with no severed fingers, ‘busog’ (full) thanks to the bigger Noche Buena budget due to not buying ‘paputok,’ and ‘malusog’ (healthy) with a cleaner and fume-free environment,” she further said.
For his part, Cong. Atong Asilo said: “I join the DOH and the EcoWaste Coalition in their spirited campaign to dissuade the people from lighting firecrackers, which can cause unwarranted injuries, fires and large-scale
“I urge the public to shun firecrackers, greet the New Year with their fingers and eyes unharmed, and with the surroundings clear of toxic smoke and garbage,” he added.
The activity is part of the EcoWaste Coalition’s ongoing “Iwas PapuToxic” drive complementing the intensified efforts of the Department of Health and other agencies’ anti-firecracker campaign to promote public health and safety against the manifold hazards posed by pyrotechnic devices.
Citing data from the Department of Health, the group pointed out that most firecracker-related injuries from December 21, 2012 to January 5 this year involved children aged 5 to 12.
Of the 931 total injuries during the said period, 904 were firecracker-related, 25 were from stray bullets and 2 from the ingestion of firecrackers.
The National Capital Region had the most number of recorded cases at 521, followed by Western Visayas (65 cases), Ilocos Region (73 cases) and CALABARZON (59 cases). Manila had the most number of cases with 168 in NCR.