Green Groups Mark “Ondoy” With Plea for Waste Prevention and Reduction

Environmental groups implored all members of the society to commit to preventing and reducing garbage as the nation commemorates the “Ondoy” tragedy that brought the country to its knees in September 2009.

After dumping a record volume of rain, typhoon “Ondoy”  (international name: “Ketsana”)  instantly  transformed huge parts of Metro Manila and Luzon into “water world,” killing over 700 citizens, displacing hundreds of thousands of people and causing billions of pesos in damaged properties and business losses.

The EcoWaste Coalition and its partner groups in Barangay Tatalon, Quezon City and Barangay Banaba, San Mateo, Rizal, two of the many communities ravaged by the floods, pointed to waste prevention and reduction as an essential measure to alleviate the impact of extreme weather disturbances  like Ondoy.

“Waste prevention and reduction, along with time-tested ecological practices of reusing, recycling and composting discards, could be the simplest flood and disaster mitigation strategy there is,” noted Edwin Alejo, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Our society will have better chances of toning down the effects of calamities upon our people and the environment if every waste generator, from individual citizens, households, markets, schools, hospitals, malls to factories, will moderate their wastefulness, conserve resources and avoid creating any form of garbage,” stated  Tatalon resident Ben Galindo, Chairperson, Sagip Pasig Movement.

“We have seen and suffered the wrath of Ondoy, but have we really learned and changed after Ondoy’s onslaught?,” asked Noli Abinales, President of the San Mateo-based Buklod Tao.  “Let the painful memories of Ondoy remind us of our shared responsibility to protect our Mother Earth, save what remains of her forests and rivers and restore her capacity to support life, starting with responsible consumption and the ecofriendly handling of our discards.”    

The groups also emphasized the need for a system that will ensure the environmentally-sound management of disaster debris and waste to minimize bacterial and chemical pollution in affected communities, noting that certain waste materials, particulary electronic waste or e-waste, are laden with toxic chemicals that could harm humans and the ecosytems. 

The groups likewise threw their support to the meaningful observance of the “Save Sierra Madre Day” on September 26 and the importance of protecting the mountain range from illegal logging activities and “developmental intrusions.” 

They cited a statement by Fr. Pete Montallana, Chairperson of the Save Sierra Madre Network who once said that “forested mountains are our best natural defenses against the twin scourges of ‘too much water’ on one hand, and ‘too little water’ on the other.”

“Ondoy could not have done its worst on the island of Luzon if its once-majestic protector, the Sierra Madre, had not been so degraded by unabated logging and other ‘developmental” intrusions’,”  Montallana, recipient of the Fr. Neri Satur Award for Environmental Heroism in 2011, said.