DESPITE all the stern warnings not to use fireworks and guns in the New Year celebration, many still ended up welcoming 2014 in the hospitals.

According to the Department of Health (DOH), there were 1,018 revelry-related injuries by Jan. 6, consisting of 997 who were injured directly by fireworks, two by ingesting fireworks, and 19 from stray bullets although the Philippine National Police (PNP) counted as many as 29. It was 87 cases higher than last year’s count of 931 victims.

It seemed that we never learn our lesson. This has been the scenario every year, with headlines of injured—or fatalities at worst—because of firecracker explosions and indiscriminate firings. Examples of which were the 12-year-old John Kenneth Diniega from Quezon City, who died because of serious head injuries gotten from playing combined remnants of unexploded firecrackers, and Von Alexander Llagas of Ilocos Sur, who is a three-month-old infant hit by a stray bullet while he slept during the changing of calendars.

In addition, a fourth of the total number of this year’s cases, or 250 victims, was children below 10 years old. It is as if we were ignorant of the possible dangers of firecrackers and shooting stray bullets every year, especially to the innocent children. Even if the government pushed hard to inform everyone about all the harm that may come, we would still explode firecrackers and will only stop once we have gotten ourselves hurt or worse, dead.

For all that happened in 2013, only a few will remember the name Stephanie Nicole Ella, a seven-year-old girl from Caloocan just standing outside her house in the middle of the revelry when a stray bullet hit her head and cut her life short two days later. Up until now, the criminal remains at large and unidentified, and may have probably shot another bullet in this year’s welcome. According to the report of PNP as well, sixty to seventy percent of the 1.7 “licensed” firearms were given based on fake documents, so much for having an existing (and recently refined) gun control law in the country.

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Even if there is an existing law on owning guns, or firecracker bans as what DOH and Malacañang would want to suggest, it will all boil down to one thing—discipline.

The primary reason why this gore welcomes happen every year is because we don’t have the discipline to at least follow safety precautions in using firecrackers and not shooting bullets around with the guns we own. As long as we do not implement laws properly and even defy them at their face, they are useless and as good as obsolete. Funny to think then that the DOH are only reminding the people of a set of guidelines in order not to fall a victim yet these simple rules they laid out we cannot follow.

Our society manifests it overtly, anyway. Garbage in the streets, pedestrians just crossing the road wherever they want, making the call of nature in any wall like a dog, disorderly queues, always beating the red light and other traffic rules, and even disregard of simple rules in commenting in a supposedly intelligent discourse—all of these show how everyone wants to prove that we are above any law by going around it. As a blogger in Get Real Philippines has said, “Filipinos in general are incapable of any form of discipline because they focus more on form rather than substance. In short, they want to stand out.” We’re too concerned of our right, our “freedom,” that we don’t remember that we still have responsibilities to deal with.

If we will just treat every rule as good as broken, then we will never progress. The only way for us to develop is to be serious about the laws that we have and follow them. If we want peace and order in our country, we have to be the change we want and need. Truly, if we must be disciplined, we must start to be one in ourselves.

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