As the number of firecracker-related injuries continues to rise, a waste and pollution watchdog organized a community action to encourage citizens to greet the New Year in a non-dangerous and non-toxic fashion.
The EcoWaste Coalition today conducted an “Iwas Paputoxic” outreach program and parade at Barangay Project 6 in Quezon City that saw the group collaborating with local community officials and groups for a joyous and safe welcome to 2016.
“It will take an entire community to protect humans, animals and the ecosystems from the outdated practice of igniting firecrackers and its life-threatening consequences,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator,
EcoWaste Coalition, as she drew attention to the key role of the barangay in preventing injuries, fires, hazardous fumes and wastes during the festivities.
“We call on the over 42,000 barangays across the country to intensify their campaign for a zero injury, zero fire and zero waste New Year revelry,” she added.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento through Memorandum Circular 2015-143 instructed concerned local government, police and fire officials to perform their respective roles and
responsibilities to prevent injuries, deaths and damage to properties due to firecrackers and fireworks.
The Barangay Chairpersons, in particular, were assigned to “conduct massive advocacy and information dissemination” within their area of jurisdiction, among other tasks.
After the short program led by Barangay Project 6 Chairperson Vicente Honorio Llamas V, incumbent Councilor Dorothy Delarmente and former Councilor Beth Delarmente of Quezon City District 1, the participants went on parade to discourage residents from igniting firecrackers and to encourage them to opt for kinder and safer instruments of merry-making.
Representatives of the Quezon City offices of the Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine National Police and the Philippine National Red Cross also took part in the event.
At the parade, participants held placards and streamers bearing timely messages such as “Make the switch. Say no to firecrackers” and “Iwas Paputoxic: Buhay, Kalusugan, Klima Sagipin." Some brandished ghastly props to show the unpleasant effects of firecrackers on human health and safety.
Among these fear-provoking props were big, “blood” splattered mock firecrackers marked with the warnings “dangerous” and “toxic,” and a “bloodied” imitation hand with severed fingers to underscore the threat from banned piccolo firecrackers that the EcoWaste Coalition has dubbed as “children’s enemy number one.”
On the other hand, some participants brought alternative noisemakers made from kitchen and laundry utensils such as pots, basins and pails, as well as torotot and improvised maracas, shakers and tambourines from recycled materials.
To hammer home their message, the youth group “Batang Sais” performed a short play informing residents about the danger posed by “paputok” to life, limb, property and the environment.
Aside from physical injuries, the EcoWaste Coalition stressed that firecrackers and fireworks yield toxic fumes, including carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that is bad for human health and the climate.
The blasting of firecrackers and fireworks further generates hazardous wastes that cannot be reused nor recycled, adding to the mountains of post-New Year revelry trash that have to be disposed of, the EcoWaste Coalition lamented.