The provincial government of South Cotabato recently launched a campaign to discourage the use of firecrackers and fireworks. As the holiday season approaches, the incidence of injury related to fireworks tends to increase – the campaign aims to fight this by promoting more responsible and safe festive activities.
On Thursday, the coordinator of non-communicable diseases of the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), Genesis Navales, said that the agency has created a team to visit schools and communities to hold conversations with residents and discourage the use of firecrackers and fireworks. The campaign will place special focus on children and teenagers, aged five to 14, as they make up the majority of recorded injury cases over the past few years.
“We continued the scare tactic for our children by showing pictures of victims who lost fingers and sustained serious injuries because of firecrackers,” Navales said.
According to Navales, the team is deciding to expand the reach of the campaign and extend their services to more communities than originally planned.
The campaign also includes posters, pamphlets, and similar materials which are to be distributed in schools and other public places to add to awareness. The materials were produced through a collaboration with the South Cotabato provincial government and the Department of Health, said Navales. Campaign materials were also sent to the province’s city and municipal mayors to encourage their participation in spearheading localized campaigns against firecrackers and fireworks. The IPHO hopes that their urging would prompt local officials to implement more polcies and regulations, like holding community firework displays to discourage household consumption of the dangerous goods.
Executive Order (E.O.) No. 28 signed by Rodrigo Duterte in June 2017 created nationwide regulations for the use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices. Through E.O. No. 28, firecrackers are prohibited for household consumption. Community firework displays are officially endorsed by the order.
During last year’s Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, a total of 51 injury cases were recorded by the IPHO. The top cause of injury is a pyrotechnic device locally termed ‘Piccolo‘. The firecracker is banned, however it continues to be sold at PHP1 a piece by sari-sari stores or other underground economy establishments.
20 of the victims last year were children aged 10 and below. three finger amputations were recorded in the municipalities of Banga, Sto. Nino, and Lake Sebu.