EcoWaste Coalition Bewails the Trashing of Quiapo as Devotees Celebrate the Feast of the Black Nazarene

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution
watchdog, lamented the ubiquitous garbage that again tarnished the great feast
of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila yesterday.

“We are deeply saddened by the way Quiapo turned into a dumpsite due to the unimpeded
disposal of garbage on the streets,” said Tin Vergara, Zero Waste Campaigner,
EcoWaste Coalition.

Reports by the group’s Basura Patrollers showed widespread littering in the Quiapo
district, particularly in Carriedo, Evangelista, R. Hidalgo, C. Palanca,
Paterno, Gonzalo Puyat and Villalobos  Sts., Quezon Blvd. and in Plaza

“Styrofoam containers for meals given to the devotees were found abandoned in
street gutters and lamp posts and under parked vehicles,” one report said.

“The clogged storm drains along Quezon Blvd. were covered with trash, while portions
of Evangelista St. were strewn with burnt firecrackers and at the corner of
Evangelista-Ronquillo Sts. was a huge pile of stinking waste,”  another report

“By past midnight, people were literally walking on garbage in Carriedo St.,”
another on the spot account said.

“The dirty streets of Quiapo are unbefitting Manila’s vision of making the feast
of Black Nazarene as an international tourist attraction,” observed Vergara.

The Manila Tourism and Cultural Affairs Bureau had earlier announced that the
religious celebration will be referred to as the “International Pilgrimage of
the Black Nazarene” beginning 2015.

“We want our foreign visitors to bear witness to our people’s indomitable faith
and remember the prayers and sacrifices of the ‘mamamasan,’ not the inhospitable
dumping of garbage in Quiapo streets.  That is not the kind of publicity
we want,” she emphasized.

To address the perennial garbage woes in the area, especially during the days
surrounding the Black Nazarene feast, the EcoWaste Coalition has recommended
the following:

1.  For the Quiapo Church to strengthen the ecological awareness and responsibility
among its parishioners by organizing a continuing environmental program all
year round in close collaboration with the barangay councils and other

2.  For the manufacturers of top waste items, including cigarette filters,
plastic bags and polystyrene food containers to conduct  a retrieval program
for such discards  free of charge, before, during and after the feast day
(January 8,9 and 10) as part of their corporate social

3.  For the Manila City Government to enforce without further delay its
ban on plastic bags, noting that Manila City Ordinance No. 8282 passed on September
3, 2012, which prohibits the use of plastic bags for dry goods and regulate
their use for wet goods, had yet to be enforced.

4.  For the Manila City Government to deploy at least 5,000 environmental police
to apprehend litterbugs, and hire waste pickers to optimize the recovery of
recyclables, especially during the actual feast day.

The EcoWaste Coalition concluded that the feast of the Black Nazarene and any
other festivities should not be exempt from abiding by the country’s basic
environmental laws, particularly those embodied in R.A. 9003.

Section 48 of R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act specifically
prohibits “the littering, throwing and dumping of waste matters in roads,
sidewalks, canals, esteros, parks and other public places,” the group pointed

Violators can be punished with a fine of P300 to P1,000 and obliged to render
community service at the local government unit where the offense was committed,
 or be directed to pay the fine as well as perform community service, the
law said.