3 hit by stray bullets in Cebu City; 69 firecracker victims in C. Visayas
There were no deaths, but the holiday revelry in Cebu after New Year’s Eve still produced three female victims of stray bullets .
There were 69 injured by firecracker blasts in Central Visayas, with most of them – 25 cases – in Cebu City.
In one bizarre case, a bullet pierced a room of the Cebu Business Hotel downtown.
Two female Australian guests booked ther were not harmed, said police.
A 12-year-old girl watching fireworks outside her house gate in barangay Capitol Site was hit in the left foot by a stray bullet. Mary Claire dela Lilan was treated in the he Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center.
In the mountain barangay of Mabini, 37-year-old Jovelyn Pucot was rushed, still conscious, with a bullet wound in the neck, to the same hospital after being hit at 1:15 a.m.
Four empty shells of a .45 caliber gun were recovered by police in the area. A .38 caliber revolver was later found abandoned in the roof of a nearby piggery .
A third victim, 22-year-old Janome Diaz of barangay Duljo-Fatima was hit in the right thigh as she was walking along the street to buy cellphone load past 11 p.m. She was able to run home to her mother, and then spent the first hours of New Year’s Day in the Cebu City Medical Center being treated.
As in previous cases of indiscriminate firing, the shooters are difficult to trace and no charges are usually filed.
There was one stray bullet victim in Mandaue city and another in Baclayon town in Bohol province, said Rennan Cimafranca, head of the Regional Epidemiological and Surveillance Unit of the Department of Health in Central Visayas (RESU-7).
The DOH launches a yearly “Iwas Pupotok” campaign for the holiday revelry and news media images of blast injuries are seasonal fare but hospitals are still kept busy with victims of firecracker accidents just before and after Dec. 31.
A good sign was that the 74 firecracker injuries recorded in Central Visayas is about the same number as last year’s, said Cimafranca, with most cases concentrated in Cebu City.
“We only have one case of amputation this year from Cebu City, a man who accidentally held a whistle bomb in his hand. There were 10 amputation cases, last year,” he said.
In Cebu island, there were 43 cases of blasts or burns without amputation, 11 eye injuires and congestion.
Firecracker injuries were reported in cities of Cebu (27), Mandaue (9), Lapu-Lapu (6), Naga (4), Talisay (4) and Toledo (1) and towns of Consolacion (2) and Minglanilla (2).
The youngest victim was a one-month-old baby whose face was partly burned by a kwitis, and the oldest was 76 years old.
Mosf of the vitims were young adults, male (78 percent).
Ten percent of the victims were under the influence of alcohol.
Half of the incidents took place in the streets, while the other half occured at home.
“Despite our warnings and advisories, there are still many victims because of lack of discipline,” said Cimafranca.
Common firecrackers used were identified as kwitis, thunder, whistle bomb, boga, fountain, collected powders, piccolo, judas belt, baby rocket and triangle.
Aside from the actual blast injury, the threat of infection and tetatnus requires victims to monitor their condition after and take preventive medication.
In Talisay City, Francis Tayong, 52, and his family were relieved to escape injury afte a bullet pierced the roof of their house.
Tayong noticed the bullet hole after he found a deformed slug of unknown caliber as he was cleaning the dining room floor.
Acting Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said Congress should amend the Revised Penal Code and impose a stricter penalty for indiscriminate firing.
“I think there is a compelling need to request Congress to revisit the provision of the RPC particularly the offense of alarm and scandals because firing a gun can punishable under that. But the penalty is very light. That law was enacted long ago,” he said.
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