Fireworks-related injuries prompt renewed calls for ban

Robie de Guzman   •   January 2, 2020   •   199

Medical personnel at East Ave Medical Center, Quezon City checks 11-year-old Justin Villafando, who was hit by a firecracker PVI/ Paul Junel aquino

MANILA, Philippines – Some lawmakers have renewed their calls to ban the sale and use of firecrackers in the country in support of the proposal of the Department of Health (DOH) to have zero injuries in the future.

In a statement, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said a firecracker ban will accelerate the decline in New Year celebration-related injuries and air pollution levels.

“Bagama’t naging bahagi na ng ating tradisyon ang pagpapaputok tuwing Bagong Taon, walang saysay ang pagpapanatili sa mga ito kung nalalagay naman sa panganib ang ating mga kababayan, lalo na ang mga kabataan,” Gatchalian said.

The DOH on Wednesday reported at least 164 individuals sustained injuries related to fireworks since December 21, 2019 until the New Year festivities on January 1, 2020.

This figure is lower by 87 cases from the previous year’s record of 251.

Data from the DOH also revealed that the National Capital Region has recorded the most number of cases with 84, followed by CALABARZON with 13 cases.

Most of the victims were male between the ages of one and 71 years old. They sustained blasts and burns, which totaled 71 cases reported. This was followed by eye injuries with 26 cases.

Most of the injuries were due to kwitis, luces, fountain, piccolo, and baby rocket.

The DOH noted that legal firecrackers caused 69 percent of all injuries.

The agency earlier stressed that all firecrackers and fireworks, including the legal ones, can cause injuries. Banning the sale and use of these firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices can help achieve the target of zero casualty.

“Sa pagbubukas ng bagong taon, lagi nating hinihiling ang maayos na kalusugan para sa atin at sa ating mga pamilya pero paglabas ng ating mga bahay ang sumasalubong sa atin madalas ay makapal na usok. Maliban sa mga sugat, ang pangmatagalang epekto ng mga paputok ay ang iba’t ibang malubhang sakit na dulot ng maruming hangin,” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian has filed in July 2019 Senate bill 724 or an act banning the sale, distribution and use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices, which in effect repeals inconsistent provisions in RA 7183, an act regulating the sale, manufacture, distribution and use of firecrackers.

Under the proposed measure, entities who want to have fireworks displays need to secure a special permit from the Philippine National Police Fireworks and Explosives Office (PNP-FEO). Upon presentation of the permit, the LGU will designate an area where the fireworks display will be held.

The bill also requires technically-equipped professionals to handle the fireworks.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III also filed Senate Bill 493 or the Firecrackers Ban Act, seeking to institutionalize President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order no. 28.

The EO, which was issued in 2017, orders the limited use of firecrackers to community fireworks display as well as stricter regulation of all uncontrolled and unregulated firecrackers and similar devices.

Sotto’s bill seeks to prohibit the unsupervised use of firecrackers regardless of the occasion. It also wants to require those who want to use fireworks in designated areas to secure permits from local government units.

The bills on firecracker ban are still pending on committee level.

Filipinos from Wuhan ‘all well and safe’, cleared to go home after quarantine – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   February 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos repatriated from Wuhan City in China are now allowed to go home as they showed no signs and symptoms of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after their 14-day quarantine period, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.

In a statement, the DOH said the 30 Filipinos and 19 others who returned from Wuhan – the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak – will be released after they manifested no signs of fever, cough, or sore throat during their 14-day stay at the quarantine facility in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.

A send-off ceremony will be held on February 22, Saturday to mark the completion of their mandatory quarantine, the department said.

“We are glad that our repatriates are all well and safe from COVID-19. Our repatriation mission is not possible without the dedication and cooperation of the entire Interagency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases with all its member agencies,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

“We are extremely grateful for the collective effort of the government,” he added.

The DOH, meanwhile, revealed that another batch of Filipinos is set to be quarantined in the facility following their arrival this weekend.

This batch is composed of about 460 to 480 Filipinos from the virus-hit M/V Diamond Princess cruise ship who availed of the government’s repatriation program.

The health department said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has already adopted a repatriation plan for the return of the Filipinos from Yokohama, Japan.

They are also coordinating with the World Health Organization, the Philippine Embassy in Japan and the Magsaysay Maritime Corporation for the repatriation process.

Under the repatriation plan, the DOH shall provide health human resources and transportation to the quarantine site, on-site medical needs of the repatriates, hospitalization expenses through Philhealth, and personal protective equipment (PPE) for the first five days of the quarantine period.

Magsaysay Maritime Corporation will bear the cost of transportation expenses, food, lodging, personal hygiene kits and disinfectants, and other expenses.

The Department of Transportation will shoulder the transportation of repatriates from Haribon hangar in Pampanga to New Clark City, while the OWWA will provide livelihood packages to the repatriates, and their transportation from Manila to their respective destinations after the quarantine period.

“We would like to assure Filipinos abroad that our government is working tirelessly to ensure that no Filipino gets left behind in our fight against COVID-19. DOH and the Philippine government are prepared to undertake all measures to care for our kababayans, no matter where they are,” Duque said.

Filipinos aboard quarantined ship in Japan to be repatriated on Feb. 23 – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   February 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship being quarantined due to cases of coronavirus among its passengers in Yokohama, Japan will be repatriated by the Philippine government on Sunday, February 23, the Department of Health (DOH) announced Thursday.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told reporters in a briefing that the Filipinos will arrive at the Haribon Hangar of Clark Airbase in two planes and will be brought to New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac to undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Of the 3,711 people onboard the cruise ship, 538 are Filipinos – 531 are crew members while seven are passengers.

The health chief said they need to bring home as soon as possible Filipinos who did not test positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and are not showing symptoms of the illness.

However, Filipinos aboard the cruise ship who were found infected with the disease will not be repatriated as they will have to be brought to a hospital to undergo treatment or monitoring.

As of Thursday, the number of Filipinos on the vessel who were found positive for COVID-19 has risen to 44.

Duque said the Philippine government is willing to assist Filipinos who contracted the disease once they have recovered.

He also said that it is not yet known how many Filipinos will return home as some might still decide to stay after disembarking the ship on Wednesday when the two-week quarantine period ended.

The entire cruise ship was placed on quarantine last February 3 after one of its passengers tested positive for the virus.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. earlier ordered for the immediate repatriation of Filipinos aboard the cruise ship.

The DFA said they have been coordinating with Japanese authorities and the operator of the vessel to ensure that everything will be smooth once the repatriation process begins. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

MCGI receives highest recognition in Dugong Bayani Awards 2019

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 14, 2020

The Members, Church of God International (MCGI) received the highest recognition at the Dugong Bayani Awards 2019 of the Philippine Blood Center and the Department of Health (DOH).

For the eighth consecutive year, MCGI received the Jose Rizal Award for having the highest number of blood donors in the country.

The Jose Rizal Award is awarded to organizations who were able to donate 2,000 bags of blood in a year.

According to the DOH, the MCGI was able to donate 5,801 bags within a year which is the highest for 2019.

“Alam naman natin na iyong ating ginagawa ay [upang] hindi tayo maghabol ng pagkilala ng tao kundi ang mahalaga, makatulong tayo sa ating kapwa tao na nangangailangan, (We know that we are not doing this for the recognition but what is important is we are able to help our fellowmen in need)” according to MCGI representative Danny Navales.

The DOH has also awarded different government agencies, private sectors, and individuals who had huge contributions to the agency’s blood donation campaign.

“Voluntary blood donation is very important kasi ang dugo, hindi natin iyan nama-manufacture. Nakukuha lang natin ang dugo sa donasyon ng ating kapwa tao (because blood cannot be manufactured. We only get blood from our fellowmen),” according to Philippine Blood Center Medical Officer III Dr. April Charlotte Andal.

The DOH continues to encourage the public to donate blood.

The MCGI regularly conducts blood donation drives at all Ang Dating Daan Coordinating Centers across the country and abroad. This is part of the advocacy campaign of Brother Eli Soriano and Brother Daniel Razon of helping people in need.

“Kailan pa man at tayo’y binibigyan ng Panginoong Dios ng mabuting pagkakataon ay makaaasa ang ating mga kababayan na patuloy pa po nating palalaguin o pagyayabungin pa ang ganitong pagtulong sa kapwa (As long as God is giving us the opportunity, rest assured that we will continue to help others),” Navales said.—AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

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