In a bid to lessen injuries that may be incurred during the holiday season, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Manila will be giving children's toys in exchange for firecrackers.
During its kickoff, at least 100 kids gave up firecrackers like piccolo and five star, and the pyrotechnic device whistlebomb in exchange for toys.
"'Yan ang pinakadelikado, 'yan ang may pinakamaraming nabibiktimang mga bata, 'yung piccolo," DSWD Manila head Jay Dela Fuente in an interview aired over GMA News TV's Balitanghali on Friday.
He said they will set up "palit areas" in the Tondo area, specifically in Tondo 1, Tondo 2, and District 5.
"Pero 'yung ibang distrito pwede rin sila magpalit dun. Dalhin lang nila 'yung paputok nila dun, papalitan namin ng laruan," he said.
Fire Inspector Generosuo Juico, substation commander of the Aroceros Fire Station, said the project will be a big help to the government's campaign against firecrackers.
"Malaki ho [matutulong niyan kasi maiiwasan ang disgrasya. [Kaya] sinama na po namin sa Oplan Paalala 'yan na 'yung mga paputok nila na dalhin na lang sa DSWD at mapapalitan pa ng laruan," he said.
The project is similar to the campaign of the Los Angeles Police Department wherein they exchanged guns with grocery store gift cards following the Connecticut school shooting.
But in a separate interview with GMA News Online, Dela Fuente said their project was not inspired by the US campaign.
"Iba 'yung sa amin, activities namin dun. Naisip lang namin dito 'yan, naisip lang namin 'yun. Order sa 'min ni Mayor Lim 'yun," he said, adding that other cities are free to follow their lead.
He also said that their project was in cooperation with the local fastfood chain Jollibee.
In a press briefing on Friday, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte also appealed to parents to help keep their children away from firecrackers.
"Please watch your children. Huwag ho nating hayaang magpaputok ng mga piccolo. Marami hong list of banned fireworks. Please, let us keep a very tight watch on our children kasi kawawa naman po ‘yan," she said.
She noted, however, that the Department of Health (DOH) and the public hospitals are "very well-prepared for what we hope to be minimal cases of fireworks-related injuries."
"Hindi naman po kami nananakot pero nakalabas na ho ‘yung mga pang-cut at ‘yung mga kailangan po nila just in case may mga injuries po na pumasok. And hopefully, again, we reiterate our appeal to parents, please watch your children. We hope that we celebrate New Year with, if not zero number of injuries, with a very, very minimal number of injuries," she said.
The DOH has said that it is considering pushing for a law that would impose a ban on fireworks in the country.
But right now, Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag said the DOH just wants a "partial ban" considering the impact a total ban may have on the fireworks industry.
He said they are open to allowing community-organized fireworks displays instead of having individual fireworks displays in residential homes.
Earlier, the Philippine National Police called on barangay officials to designate firecracker zones in their respective areas to lessen firecracker-related injuries during the New Year revelry