MANILA, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine Health Department has recorded 191 firecracker-related injuries this new year nationwide, or a 68-percent decrease compared to last year's number, the government said on Monday.
"The Department of Heath (DOH) declared a 68-percent decrease in fireworks-related injuries from Dec. 21, 2017 to Jan. 1, 2018, compared to the same period of previous year," Health Secretary Francisco Duque told a news briefing.
Duque said majority of the injuries were recorded in Metro Manila with 115 cases, followed by Western Visayas with 15 cases.
"I would say we are relatively pleased - relative because there are still injuries but pleased because of the substantial reduction or decrease in fireworks-related injuries (compared to the same period in 2017)," he said.
In 2017, he said the DOH recorded 350 firecracker-related injuries during the same period.
Duque said there are no reported deaths due to firecrackers, fireworks ingestion, or stray bullets this year.
The DOH wanted zero firecracker-related injuries when Filipinos welcome 2018. Filipinos believe in welcoming the new year with a bang by literally lighting firecrackers to usher in a prosperous new year and drive away evil spirits.
The tradition, which also became a festive practice on Christmas eve, is usually bloody and destructive, causing fire, injuries and even death. Some gun-owners even fire shots in the air accidentally hitting revelers.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has issued an executive order (EO) limiting firecrackers to community fireworks displays to avoid injuries and causalities. The EO banned the use of firecrackers in private residences and only allowed in specific areas.
Duque said he is considering recommending to Duterte to impose a total ban on firecracker use nationwide.
Military spokesman Col. Edgard Arevalo said an investigation is underway to look into the reports that an army soldier and a retired army soldier fired shots during the new year revelry.