The death of a young girl yesterday triggered public outrage over the indiscriminate firing of guns during New Year's celebrations.
Schoolchildren in the Manila suburb of Caloocan held a protest march today condemning the death of seven-year-old Stephanie Nicole Ella, who was hit by a stray bullet while watching fireworks on New Year's Eve.
There were some 1,130 fireworks-related injuries and at least 40 people were reportedly hit by wayward bullets over the holidays, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
President Benigno Aquino called Ella's shooting "a sobering reminder of how a reprehensible act from a thoughtless individual can rob our people, particularly our children, of their futures."
He called on the public to "consider the welfare of our countrymen by engaging in celebrations in a responsible and safe manner."
Before the New Year, policemen and soldiers sealed their guns with masking tape to prove they hadn’t been fired as the clock struck midnight.
The New Year in the Philippines is traditionally celebrated with explosions and gunfire, a practice that stems from a Chinese belief that loud noises drive away evil spirits.
Anti-gun advocates yesterday called for stricter laws to control firearms in the wake of the girl's death, and Vice-President Jejomar Binay called for stricter enforcement of existing gun laws.
"We have enough laws to penalize [violators] but the problem has always been in the enforcement of the laws, especially those on loose firearms," Binay said.
The Department of Health said it was considering a ban on buying fireworks and firecrackers.
This year, authorities confiscated $15 million worth of firecrackers during the holiday season.