EcoWaste Coalition Stages Lenten Walk to Press for the Closure of Polluting Dumpsites (Group Backs Ombudsman’s Action vs. Dumpsites, Asks Politicians to Enforce R.A. 9003)

advocates for chemical safety and zero waste today staged a “Lenten Walk for
Mother Earth” to dramatize the adverse impacts of garbage dumping on the

Holy Wednesday, members of the EcoWaste Coalition and ‘running priest’ Fr.
Robert Reyes, took a solemn walk from the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources to the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City.

            A volunteer carrying a big
wooden cross on his shoulders led the walk under the scorching sun, followed by
over 80 participants, many of whom donned black veils and held banners and
placards with pro-environment messages, including excerpts from Laudato Si of
Pope Francis that says:  “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more
and more like an immense pile of filth.”

         “The cross symbolizes the
suffering of our dear Mother Earth due to the failure of many localities to
close, clean up and rehabilitate polluting dumpsites across the country,” said
Father Robert Reyes, OFM.
           “The cross also represents our collective
hope that ecological stewardship will triumph over the culture of waste and
apathy that is defiling and killing God’s creation,” he added.

           “Open dumping goes against
Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, burying
communities with wastes and poisoning humans and other creatures with harmful
chemicals,” noted Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

          “By staging this walk, we
proclaim the need to end this daily ‘crucifixion’ of Mother Earth in our
throw-away society by closing the dumps and adopting practices that prevent and
reduce the generation of trash,” she emphasized.

           “Specifically, we hold this
walk to urge the Filipino nation to rally behind the Office of the Ombudsman in
its earnest efforts to protect the environment from open dumping by holding
erring officials accountable,” she further said.    
             In response, Ombudsman Conchita
Carpio Morales assured EcoWaste Coalition officers that “the Environmental
Ombudsman team of investigators and prosecutors are working double time to
ensure that the complaints filed by the National Solid Waste Management
Coalition (NSWMC) are acted upon to protect our ecosystems from the negative impact
of illegal dumping activities.”
will be recalled that last March 11, the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon and
Environmental Ombudsman Gerard A. Mosquera ordered more than 300 local
government officials to submit an explanation on the complaints.  The local officials were given a non-extendible
period of 30 days to reply and submit their Safe Closure and Rehabilitation
Plan (SCRP) that must include a proposal to immediately close open dumpsites.   
order came at the heels of the filing of 50 complaints by the NSWMC for
violation of R.A. No. 9003 last February 10 against 600 local government
officials from 13 administrative regions. The law mandated the closure of open
and controlled dumpsites from 2004 to 2006. The
complaints were signed by NSWMC Commissioner Romeo Hidalgo, a representative of
civil society in the commission and a member of EcoWaste Coalition.

             In anticipation of the start
of the official campaign period for local elective officials, the EcoWaste
Coalition urged aspiring leaders to put zero waste resource management at the
center of their electoral platforms.

            “We call upon all candidates
for local positions to pay serious attention to the urgency of enforcing R.A.
9003 and building zero waste communities to reduce the volume and toxicity of
garbage, save resources, cut back on pollution, create green livelihood, and
safeguard the environment and the climate,” Lucero said.

               The NSWMC projects waste
generation for 2016 to hit 9,213 tons per day in Metro Manila and 40,087 tons
per day nationwide. ###