EcoWaste Coalition, health dept. involve school children in campaign against firecrackers

The EcoWaste Coalition and the Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday enjoined school children to be "drivers of change" by joining the campaign to use noise-making instruments instead of lighting firecrackers in welcoming the New Year.

"Kids, as you go back to your respective homes, spread the word and tell your mother and father the dangers of using firecrackers," DOH spokesperson Dr. Eric Tayag told almost 1,000 elementary students who gathered at the Jacinto Zamora Elementary School in Quirino Ave., Pandacan, Manila. He echoed EcoWaste national coordinator Aileen Lucero's message for children to be the ones to spread among family and friends the importance of a safe holiday celebration.

To drive his message home, Tayag rendered three dance numbers with other partners in the campaign and children who carried with them messages on the harmful effects of firecrackers on health and environment.

This year's Miss Philippines Earth-Ecotourism Melanie Mader also participated in the dance number as she spoke of how firecrackers pollute the air everyone breathes. "We can do several things for a happier and safer (holiday) celebration," said Mader.

Meanwhile, children watching them at the bottom of the stage joined the dance, cheering them on as they made noise using materials normally found at home.

In an interview, Tayag said that children can be effective advocates for the campaign because they can remind their families and friends of the harm of lighting firecrackers and push instead for safer ways to celebrate the holidays.

He said this year's campaign against the use of firecrackers will focus on Metro Manila which has consistently topped the number of firecracker-related injuries these past years. In 2015, he said, almost 60 percent of firecracker-related injuries occurred in Metro Manila.

Tayag said they are also coordinating with Manila's city health officers on how to make street-dancing an alternative to lighting firecrackers.

He further said that his department is coordinating with various task force partners to crack down on the use of illegal firecrackers, particularly the smuggled piccolo that is considered the most dangerous among all firecrackers. Based on DOH records, he said, about 40 percent of firecracker-related injuries among children were caused by the piccolo.

Tayag said that according to police officials, the piccolo is smuggled into the country early on in the year. "And it is accessible because of its affordability among non-suspecting customers," he said, adding that they are also discussing with partner agencies efforts to stop the proliferation of this particular firecracker.

Meanwhile, EcoWaste's Lucero called on sellers not to sell firecrackers to children. She added that they are looking forward to President Rodrigo Duterte's signing of the Executive Order on regulating the use of firecrackers.

She pointed out that while they are pushing for a total ban on firecrackers, as of now they are a bit satisfied with current efforts on the selective use of firecrackers and on putting up a fireworks displays in a community setting, in coordination with local government units.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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