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(Updated Jan. 3, 9:45 a.m.) Two children were killed and hundreds more were among the 739 victims of New Year-related incidents documented so far, according to Department of Health (DOH) statistics and reports from GMA News’ “24 Oras” on Monday.
According to data from the DOH-National Epidemiology Center, 712 fireworks-related cases were reported as of January 2. Most of those affected were children, with 35 percent of the victims aged ten and below. A total of 318 were caused by illegal fireworks, about one-fourth from the popular firecracker Piccolo, which has been repackaged and sold in Divisoria as "James Bond" or "Trueno."
DOH Assistant Secretary Enrique Tayag had earlier expressed concerns that this year's figures may surpass the total of 972 cases of fireworks-related injuries, 39 cases of stray bullets-injuries, and 11 cases of fireworks ingestion reported during the previous surveillance period from December 21, 2010 to January 5, 2011. One of the victims died from the injuries.
This year, one child died from a firecracker-related injury while another was killed by a stray bullet, according to reports from GMA News.A “24 Oras” report said nine-year old John Vincent Gonzales died Jan. 1 after playing with gunpowder from unexploded firecrackers outside his family’s sari-sari store in Nueva Ecija’s Cabanatuan City. Two of his playmates, 10-year-old Roel Pobre and nine-year-old Richard Rivas, sustained injuries from the same explosion. “'Yung diyaryo po, nilagyan po ng luces, bigla po sumabog 'yung ‘Goodbye Philippines,’” said Gonzales’s playmate. “Inipon daw po ‘yung pulbura ng paputok, inano daw po sa lalagyanan ng 'Fountain,'” a neighbor added. Stray bullets hit the young and innocent Another child was killed when a stray bullet hit her in Binondo, Manila. According to a separate “24 Oras” report, seven-year-old Angelita Dela Cruz was standing outside her family’s house when a 9-mm bullet pierced her chest and killed her almost instantly. The girl’s mother, Cristina Dela Cruz, said they still have no idea where the bullet came from. “Karamihan po kasi dito sa 'min puro pulis, puro bagong pulis,” she said. In tears, Angelita’s grandfather appealed to the person who may have killed his granddaughter to show up, saying, “Sana makonsensiya ka. ‘Yung natamaan mong bata, apo ko ‘yan. Mabait na bata ‘yan.” Stray bullets have injured 22 people from the New Year revelries so far, the DOH said. In Malabon, two-year-old Kirby was injured when a bullet went through the roof of their house and grazed the toddler’s head. Marina Derder of Caloocan was also injured when a stray bullet entered through the window of their house and hit her left hip. “Parang bigla akong pinalo dito sa balakang. Nag-iyakan ‘yung mga anak ko kasi nakita nila na dumudugo na itong balakang ko,” she said. Message to gun owners and victims The victims urged gun owners to consider the lives they are putting in danger when they fire their weapons. At the same time, Dr. Tayag advised victims to have their injuries treated, no matter how small, to prevent tetanus. “’Yung mga sugat po diyan, ‘wag niyong babalewalain sapagkat marami na kaming binuksan na sugat sa ospital, nakabaon ‘yung papel ng paputok, pulbura. Makikita naming nabubulok na pala ‘yung laman. ‘Yan po ang pag-uugatan ng tetanus,” he said. — With Amanda Lago and Carmela G. Lapeña/VS/KG/YA, GMA News