With barely a week before New Year, the EcoWaste Coalition called for more resolute action involving all sectors to stop the lethal harm posed by the infamous “piccolo,” a banned scratch-banger type of firecracker, on young children.
The watchdog group also reminded the children not to buy piccolo and other firecrackers with the “aginaldo” they will receive from their grandparents and relatives in the traditional Christmas gift giving today.
The group, which is campaigning for injury-free, climate-friendly and zero waste New Year’s celebrations, singled out “piccolo” after the Department of Health (DOH) reported that six children, aged seven to 10, had so far sustained various firecracker-linked injuries with five of the cases due to piccolo.
Last Christmas season, during the period from 21 December 2013 to 5 January 2014, the DOH monitored a total of 997 cases of firecracker-related injuries and 2 cases of firecracker ingestion, including 359 cases of piccolo-associated injuries.
The Coalition specifically pleaded for combined local government, police, barangay and citizen action to rid the market of the banned piccolo and protect the young and the vulnerable from being harmed.
“Piccolo has been the leading cause of firecracker-related injuries, especially among young children, for the past several years. We need to do more to beat this small but terrible piccolo preying on our playful children,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.
“Proactive police action to search, cease and destroy piccolo being sold in the streets, markets and neighborhood stores and the subsequent prosecution of their pigheaded importers, distributors and vendors will bring the bloody piccolo threat to a halt,” she added.
“We need more ‘kapit-bisig’ involving all sectors to protect our children against peddlers of piccolo and other banned firecrackers,” she pointed out.
The EcoWaste Coalition likewise reminded concerned agencies to work double-time to implement Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 1, Series of 2014, issued on December 4, which seeks to coordinate actions of government agencies to enforce RA 7183 (“An Act Regulating the Sale, Manufacture, Distribution and Use of Firecrackers and Other Pyrotechnics).
The JMC, signed by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Health Acting Secretary Jannete Garin, also seeks to adopt advocacy campaigns and measures to prevent injuries, deaths and damage to properties caused by firecrackers among local government units, concerned departments, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, and the Bureau of Customs.
“With the New Year’s Eve just around the corner, we urge all concerned agencies to effectively carry out their roles and responsibilities as provided for in the said JMC to minimize, if not eliminate, the health and safety hazards, injuries and deaths, and environmental pollution caused by firecracker use during the holidays,” Lucero stressed.
Last December 16, the EcoWaste Coalition joined forces with the DOH and other government agencies, the Miss Earth Foundation and the Fernando Ma. Guerrero Elementary School in Paco, Manila to launch this year’s “Iwas Paputoxic” campaign through a noise barrage simulating a festive welcome of the New Year using safe and eco-friendly noisemakers.
“Let us turn away from the injurious and polluting practice of blasting firecrackers and fireworks, and welcome the New Year with loads of joy, hope and solidarity, and without garbage and pollution that harm our environment, our climate and, above all, our children,” said Lucero.
For a pollution- and harm-free Yuletide and New Year celebrations, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated the following eco-friendly and inexpensive noise-making activities:
1. Save a finger, blow a torotot (Pinoy-style trumpets).
2. Clang cymbals from pot lids and pan covers.
3. Shake maracas made out of used tin cans.
4. Rattle the tambourine made from flattened bottle crowns.
5. Joggle “piggy banks” or “shakers” from paper box or plastic bottles with seeds, pebbles or coins.
6. Tap drums made of big water bottles, biscuit cans or buckets.
7. Create whistling sound or get a whistle and blow it.
8. Beat the batya or palanggana (washbasin) with a ladle or stick.
9. Knock empty coconut shells.
10. Switch on the radio or play your favorite music or musical instruments.
11. Ring the alarm clocks or play ringtones altogether.
12. Honk bicycle or car horns.
13. Clap your hands and stump your feet.
14. Laugh your lungs out and bid your worries goodbye.
15. Do the latest dance craze, twist and shout “Happy New Year!”