PNP notes fewer firecracker-related injuries in 2009

January 2, 2010 1:10 am 

MANILA, Jan. 1 — The Philippine National Police (PNP) noted a significant reduction in firecracker-related cases during the 2009 Christmas and New Year holiday period.

PNP Chief, Director General Jesus A. Verzosa said 2009 recorded the lowest rate of firecracker-related injuries over a five-year period since 2005.

Verzosa shared Health Secretary Francisco Duque's assessment attributing the improved situation to the government's public information and education campaign and the intensified crackdown on illegal firecrackers waged by law enforcement agencies.

Citing reports from Police Director Andres G. Caro II, PNP Director for Operations, Verzosa said from December 16, 2009 to January 1, 2010, a total of 325 firecrackers-related incidents resulting in 369 injuries and three deaths were monitored by the PNP.

This is lower by 42.98 percent compared to the same period in 2008 with 570 firecrackers-related incidents that had caused 573 injuries and two deaths. The 2009 figure is in fact the lowest firecracker-related number of incidents recorded since 2005.

Over the past five years, Verzosa said the same statistics culled by the PNP Directorate for Operations showed year 2005 as having the highest number of incidents related to firecrackers, stray bullets, and indiscriminate firing. The decrease in all of these incidents, however, was very notable in 2009, as it reflected a relatively peaceful and almost violence-free celebration of the Christmas and New Year.

"All indicators show that in due time, firecracker-related injuries and casualties during yuletide season would eventually diminish to a very insignificant level with the vigorous advocacy and close coordination/collaboration among other government agencies, non governmental organizations (NGOs), and the tri-media to ensure the security and safety of the general public and attain the goal of 'Zero Casualty' during Christmas/New Year's celebration," Verzosa said.

On New Year's Eve, the PNP launched an intensified crackdown on illegal firecrackers with PNP units conducting seizure and confiscation of dangerous and prohibited firecrackers, including the "Piccolo', a brand of firecracker that Department of Health (DOH)has identified as the leading cause of firecracker-related injuries.

On stray bullet incidents, police arrested four civilians, including a security guard, on separate occasions for alleged illegal discharge of firearms, Verzosa said.

PNP Spokesman, Chief Superintendent Leonardo A. Espina said the PNP has requested DOH authorities to submit to the PNP all recovered evidence such as empty shells and bullets to possibly identify the suspects involved and support filing of criminal charges in court. (PNA) FFC/PR/rsm

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