200 people injured in New Year celebrations in the Philippines

Vastavam web: Nearly 200 people were injured during traditionally raucous New Year celebrations in the Philippines despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s order limiting the use of firecrackers, the health minister said today.The order signed in June restricted the noisy explosives to community fireworks displays in an attempt to curb the bloody merrymaking that leaves scores of Filipinos dead or injured each year.

The Philippines is mainly Catholic but the violent New Year festivities draw on ancient superstitions and Chinese traditions, with people firing guns and setting off powerful fireworks in the belief the bangs will drive away bad spirits.Asked how to further minimise injuries, Duque said: “I think the end goal really is to ban fireworks completely.” Duterte, 72, won elections in mid-2016 vowing to strictly enforce law and order measures. He has also waged an unprecedented drug war which has claimed thousands of lives and led rights groups to warn he may be orchestrating crimes against humanity.

Duque said most of this year’s injuries occurred on the streets of the capital Manila, with illegal matchstick-sized “piccolo” firecrackers remaining the top cause.As Davao mayor, he signed in 2002 an ordinance that banned the manufacture, sale, distribution, possession and use of firecrackers in the city.Duterte’s spokesman said on Monday that the president might consider adopting a total firecracker ban nationwide.