9 January 2018, Manila City/Quezon City. Urine-filled plastic bottles, yucky diapers, mucky wipes, makeshift beddings, food containers and leftovers, spoiled pancit, cup noodles, instant coffee sachets, cigarette filters, and lots of things plastic from carry bags to cutlery.
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These were some of the abandoned garbage found by EcoWaste Coalition’s volunteers who took part in the cleanup of Rizal Park this morning shortly after the venerated image of the Black Nazarene left the Quirino Grandstand for the over six-kilometer procession that drew thousands upon thousands of barefoot devotees.
“Our public appeal for a trash-less Traslacion has again fallen on deaf ears. Many people unashamedly threw their garbage anywhere turning the parade ground fronting the Quirino Grandstand into a dumping ground,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition
The waste and pollution watch group had earlier urged the Black Nazarene devotees, describing them as “stewards of God’s Creation,” to take full responsibility for their discards and not to rely on other people to clean up after them.
“Families and barkadas who flocked to the park and even set up tents for the overnight vigil left piles of rubbish behind just like in previous years. There were many urine-filled PET bottles lying on the ground,” Alejandre added.
At the Quiapo district, the garbage situation was similarly dreadful with litter scattered all over the place, the EcoWaste Coalition observed.
The group’s Basura Patrollers reported rampant disposal of foam food containers in street corners and gutters and in places where exhausted devotees hanged out to eat and rest.
“Despite the painstaking efforts of street sweepers to pick up after the devotees, rubbish can be spotted everywhere! Old habits die hard ” said Alejandre.
“People seem to have no qualms about littering, a prohibited act under local and national environmental laws that is more often disregarded than enforced. Littering, especially in godly activities, is totally unacceptable. Devotion should not lead to pollution,” he emphasized.
Aside from food foam containers, the Basura Patrollers also found plastic bags and bottles, cigarette butts, and product packaging materials widely scattered in the area.
While critical of the litterbugs, the EcoWaste Coalition thanked the hundreds of environmental personnel and volunteers, as well as the informal waste recyclers, who all helped in cleaning up the littered streets.
The group specifically cited the round-the-clock service rendered by cleaners from the Department of Public Works, Metro Manila Development Authority, Manila’s Department of Public Services, and volunteers from civic and religious groups.
“We hope that our people’s devotion to the Black Nazarene will also find its expression in the way we act toward our shared environment — with care and respect,” Alejandre said.
Meanwhile, the group questioned the propriety of hanging tarpaulins promoting candidates for the May 2019 midterm elections not only on lamp posts and trees, but also in some of the prayer stations set up by the church organizers.
“The blatant premature campaigning by some politicians was in bad taste. We doubt if they will earn pogi points for politicizing the Traslacion,” Alejandre said.