An advocacy group for a zero waste and toxics-free society lauded Metro Manila’s local government units (LGUs) and the region‘s over 13 million residents for welcoming the New Year with lower firecracker-related injuries, zero firecracker-connected fire incidents, and with less pollution.
“Unlike in previous years, the New Year’s Eve revelry in the metropolis was less toxic with many people opting not to light firecrackers in deference to a directive issued by the Metro Manila Council (MMC). Higit na maganda pa sana ang resulta kung mas napaaga ang pagbabawal sa mga paputok,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
The MMC last December 23, 2020, resolved to ban the sale and use of firecrackers to ensure public safety and to prevent mass gatherings that could contribute to the spread of COVID-19.
“While the ban was not fully enforced and followed in some places, the celebrations were, by and large, a drastic departure from the warlike revelry of the past that saw hundreds of victims, including children and youth, being rushed to hospitals for emergency treatment due to firecracker injuries,” observed Dizon.
Preliminary data from the Department of Health and the Philippine National Police showed a dramatic drop in the number of persons injured by firecrackers and fireworks, the group noted. The Bureau of Fire Protection also confirmed no firecracker-related fires during the festivities.
“With the reduced use of firecrackers and consumer pyrotechnics on New Year’s Eve, we can’t help but notice its good effects on our bodies and the environment. The air is not hazy in areas where the ban was put into force, people can breathe easily and there’s no black soot in their noses! We believe our cats and dogs are very pleased, too, knowing how scared and sensitive they are to firecracker noise,” said Dizon.
Dizon also noted the visible decrease in the amount of hazardous and non-recyclable discards from used firecrackers and fireworks, which are often left lying on the streets after the revelry.
The very significant decline in firecracker injuries and the obvious improvement in environmental quality should motivate and push the national and local authorities into expanding the firecracker ban and making it permanent, the EcoWaste Coalition said.
“We hope President Duterte will keep his word and impose a national ban on firecrackers, which we hope will replicate Davao City’s successful ban on firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices since 2001,” said Dizon.
“A safer, non-toxic New Year‘s Eve revelry is for the common good, and is not impossible to achieve,” the EcoWaste Coalition, which has been organizing school- and community-based “Iwas Paputoxic” campaign since 2006, concluded.
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