MANILA, Philippines - Nine-year-old Edmar Arsenal yesterday learned the hard way that children should not play with firecrackers after a piccolo exploded in his hand.
“It was too painful. I was so scared when I saw blood, I thought my fingers would be cut off,” Arsenal said after undergoing treatment at the Tondo General Hospital in Manila.
The boy bought the piccolo for P15 per box, which contains 50 sticks of firecrackers.
Pedro Calugay, Edmar’s grandfather, said he repeatedly reminded all of his grandchildren not to use firecrackers but they did not listen to him.
After what happened to Edmar, Mang Pedro is hopeful that his other grandchildren would not touch any pyrotechnics again.
Health Secretary Enrique Ona advised Edmar to use other noise-making devices in ushering in the New Year when he visited the hospital yesterday afternoon.
Ona said that all hospitals of the Department of Health (DOH) are prepared for the influx of firecracker victims on New Year’s Eve.
According to DOH records, piccolo, a banned firecracker, accounted for 86 of the 149 firecracker incidents seen in 50 sentinel hospitals across the country from Dec. 21 to 27. An injury from stray bullet was also recorded.
Based on the DOH’s Injury Registry for its “Iwas Paputok” campaign, five individuals, including an eight-year-old boy from Iloilo City, have lost fingers due to firecrackers.
The boy’s index finger was amputated after a five-star exploded in his hand.
The registry showed the 150 cases is 26 cases lower than the same period in 2011, but two cases higher than the previous five-year average (2007-2011).
The National Capital Region still accounts for the most number of cases at 73, followed by Western Visayas with 15 cases and Southern Tagalog with nine cases.
The DOH regional office in Central Luzon reported that firecracker related injuries in the region rose to two as of yesterday afternoon, but it is still lower by 11 percent compared to last year.
Jessie Pantone, head of the regional epidemiology and surveillance unit of the DOH-III, said that at least two persons suffered injuries caused by “gangnam bomb” and “goodbye bading.”
Pampanga has the highest number of firecracker related injuries in the region recorded since Dec. 27.
DOH-III records showed that Pampanga has 23 cases reported, followed by Bulacan with 10, Tarlac, eight, Bataan and Nueva Ecija with three each, and Zambales two.
Pantone said that most of the injured were children with ages ranging from one to nine, while the oldest victim is 52 years old.
Aside from “gangnam bomb” and “goodbye bading,” other firecrackers that caused injuries are piccolo, skyrocket or kwitis, five star and lusis.
No victim of stray bullet was reported in the region since DOH-III started surveillance and monitoring on Dec. 21.
PCG seizes illegal fireworks
Meanwhile, despite warning against the transport of illegal firecrackers, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) recently seized seven cartons of fireworks in Misamis Oriental.
PCG spokesman Commander Armand Balilo said that trained dogs of the PCG-K9 unit detected the seven cartons of firecrackers that were loaded on board the M/V Yuhum.
The vessel, which was docked in Balingoan, Misamis Oriental, was scheduled to leave for Camiguin Island last Dec. 23.
Balilo said the PCG Balingoan detachment tried to locate the owner of the cargo but they were unsuccessful. The abandoned cargo is temporarily stored at the PCG detachment.
With the New Year revelry two days away, PCG commandant Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena again reminded traders to secure permits from the Philippine National Police (PNP) before transporting firecrackers on board commercial ships.
As part of their beefed up security at sea, the PCG has also sent out additional teams from Task Force Sea Marshal.
“We are once again advising the public, especially the regular ship travelers, that this measure is to prevent the entry of loose guns and firearms, explosives including illegal firecrackers, and bladed weapons in passenger terminals and on board ships,” Isorena said.
The PCG chief also advised ship agents engaged in international trade to submit the Advance Notice of Arrivals at least 48 hours prior to their arrival that include the ship’s voyage particulars, complete list of crew and persons on board and cargo on board as part of the regular conduct of port state control inspection. – with Evelyn Macairan, Dino Balabo