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Injuries fewer by 40%, says Health

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THE number of firecracker injuries rose to 521 as of 6 a.m. on Jan. 2 from 350 on Jan. 1, but that was still 40 percent lower than the injuries recorded in 2015, the Department of Health said on Monday.

Department spokesman Eric Tayag said the 521 injuries compared with the 874 cases recorded in 2015.

He made his statement even as the National Capital Region Police Office said 167 cases of fireworks-related injuries were recorded during the celebration of the New Year.

But Metro Manila Police Chief Oscar Albayalde said that number was 86 percent lower compared with the 880 cases recorded a year ago. 

His office also reported three cases of indiscriminate firing or people being hit by stray bullets during the New Year celebrations.

Three Army soldiers and a Philippine Coast Guard officer reportedly fired their weapons indiscriminately during the New Year celebrations, and were arrested by police operatives in Oriental Mindoro and in Bicol on Monday morning.

Authorities identified the army soldiers as Privates First Class Kevin Fajilagutan, Leonard Magro and John Rey Calansa, all members of the Army’s 514th Engineering Construction Battalion of the 51st Engineering Brigade based in Oriental Mindoro.

The Philippine Coast Guard officer was identified as Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Betito Lumbre.

Tayag said of the 521 cases, 284 were children  up to 15 years old and 426 were male. More than half the total or 297 were recorded in Metro Manila, 177 of the injuries were caused by the Piccolo and 98 were eye injuries. 

On Monday, Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial reported a 60-percent drop in the number of fireworks-related injuries.

She attributed the drop to the Duterte “fear factor” as people were scared they would be punished for using firecrackers to welcome 2017. 

“They have this impression that somehow they will get caught or they will be punished,” Ubial said.

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