Alternative livelihood programs first should be provided before total firecracker ban - Duque

By Analou De Vera

The Department of Health (DOH) has reiterated its support for the total firecracker ban, but livelihood programs should be provided first to the affected individuals if proposed measure will be implemented.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that they have long been supportive of the said proposed measure as it is a way to achieve its goal of "zero casualty" during New Year's revelries.

DOH Secretary appointee Francisco Duque III during his ad interim appointment with the Committee on Appointments at Senate on Wednesday. Photo by Jansen Romero DOH Secretary appointee Francisco Duque III ( Jansen Romero/ MANILA BULLETIN)

"The DOH position has been consistent. I think we've been supportive of a total ban," said Duque.

However, the health chief said that alternative livelihood programs should be provided first to workers in the firecracker business.

"The total ban cannot be executed without the benefit of really identifying alternative livelihood activities or programs for those who will be adversely affected," said Duque.

"We cannot be reckless, we have to be very clear what will be the alternative livelihood programs for people who will be displaced because of the ban," he added.

The health chief said that "this cannot just be within the domain of the DOH," as it is also a collaboration with other agencies including Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Labor and Employment, and Department of Finance because the measure "has a lot of implications."

On New Year's day, the health department has reported 68 percent decrease (139 cases) of firecracker-related injuries as compared to the previous year.

The DOH has noted that an increase of cases is expected “as there are late reports still coming from the other regions." Meanwhile, the number of such injuries has already increased to 236 cases as of Wednesday morning.