Brandishing improvised noisemakers of various types and sounds, residents marched through the streets of Malate to show a cheer-filled way of ringing in 2018 without injury and pollution from firecrackers.
Jointly organized by the EcoWaste Coalition and the Our Lady of Remedies Parish, the “Iwas Paputoxic: Ligtas Na, Malinis Pa” parade showcased harmless and emission-free noisemakers such as pans, pots and ladles, ukuleles, and maracas, shakers and tambourines fashioned out of recycled materials.
Joining the festive crowd were Department of Health (DOH) Assistant Secretary Maria Francia Laxamana, and local police, fire and barangay officials.
“For a change, let us welcome 2018 with fresh air and unsoiled surroundings by not igniting firecrackers and fireworks and not burning used tires and garbage, which all contribute to avoidable pollution and exposure to health-damaging chemicals,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition, civil society partner of DOH’s “Iwas Paputok” campaign.
“For a safer and cleaner celebration of the New Year, I urge our communities to rejoice without dirtying the air we breathe and inflicting harm on fellow humans and the animals. Funds for firecrackers and pyrotechnics are better diverted to charities providing humanitarian aid to victims of the Marawi siege and the recent typhoons Urduja and Vinta,” said Father Leo Distor, Parish Priest, Our Lady of Remedies Parish.
At the program preceding the parade, Internist-Pulmonologist Dr. Maria Encarnita Blanco-Limpin, Chairperson of the Environment Health and Ecology Committee of the Philippine Medical Association, warned that “air pollutants from the use of the firecrackers and fireworks do affect the air quality, posing health risks, particularly among infants, children and youth, the elderly, and persons with heart, nervous system and respiratory conditions.”
Air pollution may cause or worsen asthma, bronchitis, laryngitis, pneumonia, rhinitis, sinusitis and other respiratory illnesses, as well as cardiovascular ailments. Among the pollutants of concern include particulate matters, heavy metal oxides, greenhouse gases and other air contaminants.
“With the stricter enforcement of related laws and ordinances and the indispensable cooperation of the public, we hope to see further progress in reducing firecracker-related injuries as well as the associated pollution from the use of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.